Robert Jung plays with
an old favourite...
As with other games in the Jaguar's "2000"
series, Breakout 2000 is an update to the original bounce-a-ball-and-break-the-walls
game. Played from a three-quarters overhead view, the
game features power-up icons, invading enemies, three-dimensional
layouts, and two-player simultaneous play. Settings
allow the game's difficulty to be tweaked, and for the
retro-gamers in the audience, the original Breakout is
Confession time here: I loved the original Breakout. I don't mean merely that I enjoyed it, I'm
talking major-league addiction, the kind where you'd
rather play the game than eat, sleep or (in my case)
do schoolwork for. I finally shook the habit, but the
fondness for Breakout's simplicity and speed never fades completely.
Understandably, then, when I first heard about Breakout 2000,
I had very high hopes in recreating the thrills of those
early days of video gaming.
But if Breakout was
a feast, then Breakout 2000 is merely an appetizer during the meal. It's
not that it's a bad game; rather, it's a slower-paced
version of the original. The various gimmicks don't
add any major depths to the title, and some of the power-up
capsules feel like gratuitous "mirror images"
used to pad out the game. The action can get fairly
hectic at times, but overall the cartridge's tone is
fairly mellow, lulling the player into an easy rhythm.
But while a relaxing game is good for some folks, players
who are seeking slam-bang excitement won't find much
of it here.
The most interesting
aspect of Breakout 2000 is its head-to-head competitive mode, against
either a second human or a computer-controlled drone.
Here, in addition to breaking down his own wall, each
player can also send his shot over to the opponent's
court, and knock down his bricks for extra points. But
while this proves fairly entertaining, it's still a
bit dull in some spots, especially when an aggressive
player sends his ball ricocheting around his opponent's
side, only to twiddle his thumbs while waiting for a
ball to return so he can hit it again. It's fun for
a while, but not enough to launch the game into "classic"
other aspects of the game: The controls are passable,
if a tad disappointing with the joypad is a merely-adequate
replacement for the original game's rotary dials, as
it's a little hard to hit the ball precisely; the three-quarters
view and constant paddle speed makes judging angles
and returning shots somewhat difficult. Finally, the
"Classic Breakout" mode is a workable substitute, but
devoted fans of the original will be better off dusting
off the Atari 2600 hiding in their closets.
The graphics and sound on
Breakout 2000 are nice, if a tad uninspiring, and leave
room for minor improvements. Visuals consist of brightly-colored
bricks and objects, contrasting with a variety of darker
"sci-fi" chambers. The few animated elements,
such as flying spaceships and probe-dropping robots,
are merely passable, with some slightly choppy animation.
are about the same. In-game music consists of a variety
of soft rock/psuedo-techno backbeats. Though there isn't
anything especially attentive here, they fit the game
well, accompanying the action without intruding upon
it. Sound effects are dull, however; aside from an occasional
white-noise explosion or hiss, the majority of the game
sounds are the primitive beeps and boops that play each
time the ball hits a brick. As a whole, it's slightly
For players who want seat-of-the-pants excitement
and nonstop action, Breakout
2000 is not for them. Rather,
this title is best suited for those who are looking
for a game to relax with, an oasis of calm amid the
seas of fighting, racing, and shooting titles. While
graphics and sound are nothing to get excited over,
they are not bad, and the two-player mode will prove
entertaining for a while, at least.