The gaming industry as a whole is obsessed with the next big thing. Better graphics, bigger worlds, or more outlandish stories. Keeping up can quite honestly be exhausting. Sometimes it’s nice when a developer pushes through a new game that uses a tried and tested gameplay premise, and a fun yet simple arcade approach. Developers Lillymo Games have created an adventure game that relies on the concept of brick breaking, and pinball. Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure has been published by Eastasiasoft Limited.
The game opens with the most bizarre cinematic. It explains that the game is set 100s of years in the future, a world war has broken out, and for some reason America has become the next Switzerland, and stayed neutral. This political stance has made them the richest country in the world, and places them in the driving seat when it comes to space travel, and colonising new worlds. Peace eventually comes to Earth, but the damage is done, USA uses NASA to front their space missions, and after years of unknown success or failure, a ship is found orbiting Mars. The scientists recover as much information as possible and discover a hidden wormhole near Mercury. Two brave astronauts (Colin and Chris) are chosen for the mission, and this is where the journey begins.
So you may think, “What’s bizarre about that? Other than maybe the USA not wanting to fight!” On its own, you’d be right, but when you combine it with the gameplay, you are left frowning at how loose the game carries the story on. Each of the ships has a super secret last ditch hidden weapon called the “Bouncer”, and thank goodness they did, as this forms the key gameplay mechanic to which all the action relies upon. As you enter each level, each of the ships form a paddle, and a giant ball is flung from one platform. Your task is to use each of the ships to deflect the ball into the destructible bricks, until the stage is clear. As bits are damaged, enemies and power-ups will fall from the sky. You must collect them or avoid them at all costs. You are allocated 3 hearts at the start of each stage, and being hit by an enemy, or allowing the ball to pass you, will cost you health. Lose all of them, and it’s game over.
Twin Breaker is effectively an arcade brick breaking game that has a loose story and stays loyal to its space theme throughout. There is a requirement to have good eye hand coordination, and excellent peripheral vision, as you must control both paddles using a twin stick setup. This took me a while to get to grips with, especially when the action got hectic, and the power-ups and enemies began raining down on me. With some practise I could overcome my issues and could proceed. It was at this point that I really enjoyed myself. That was until the developers threw a spanner in the works, and literally spun the world on its head. No longer were paddles side by side, no, they were opposite one another, and multiplied on several levels, so now you were forced to command 4 paddles at once. Suddenly my brain imploded. This minor alteration notched up the difficulty vastly, and made the game a different beast all together. This was a simple, yet genius move by Lillymo Games, and that alongside its many additional game modes makes this a title with plenty of replay value.
If you’ve ever played a brick breaking game, you’ll know exactly what to expect. A fixed screen presentation in 2D awaits you. Though there is a lot going on, the action flows smoothly, and following the flight of the ball is about timing and practise. The graphics looked like they had come out of an 80s arcade machine. With pixelated images, basic cinematic, and corny bubble text. It was a great nod to the past and had a feeling of nostalgia about it. The background was like some sort of acid trip. It was constantly moving, and gave each stage a fluid motion. The one area that I felt was lacking was the vibrancy in both tone and colour. It looked very earthy and not at all how I imagined a Sci-Fi themed game to look.
I wasn’t shocked by the audio, and everything that I heard was what I’ve come to expect from an Indie title. Everything was reminiscent of arcade gaming. Synthesised high-tempo music tied in with garish and over the top sound effects. It was great, and it matched the visual presentation. It took me right back to a golden age of gaming.
With so much going on, and the twin stick controls to contend with, you may be worried that this is hard to play. It really isn’t. Even with my own inadequacies I had great fun playing it. The sensitivity to move the paddles is just right and controlling the power-ups is easy to do. The ball flinging off your paddle roughly where you’d expect is exactly how I remember all the original brick breaker games. This uncertainty keeps you on your toes and has you cursing your luck when it doesn’t play out. For me, it’s another reason to love arcade gaming.
It has an odd and disjointed storyline, and simple game mechanics, so is there much to make you come back? There is, because of the several game modes that successfully alter the main concept, and the increase in difficulty when the world twists for a new perspective. If you are competitive, you will push yourself for the best score possible as each of the levels is ranked up to an S value. There is also a large and challenging achievement list to be completed if you are so inclined.
When all your ships go missing for years at a time, and you haven’t heard from any of them. Do you think it would be surprising when one turns up out of the blue? It’s surely a little suspect that it gives you alien secrets, and the access to a wormhole that has been hidden right under your nose! I don’t know about you, but alarm bells would ring. Is this some sort of elaborate alien trap, or a cry for help? Why not jump in and find out for yourself! Is this a game that I’d recommend? Absolutely, it’s unusual, fun, deep in lore, if not a little wayward with its story, and reeks of arcade nostalgia. Destroy those bricks and keep your balls safe. After all, you never know when you’ll need them to take down some alien scum.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
We all know we’re doomed when the USA stays neutral. NASA fails in its attempts to colonise new worlds, and all looks lost until the aliens make contact.
- Retro old school gaming.
- Great arcade sounds.
- Simple controls.
- Lots of replay value.
- The graphics weren’t as vivid as I expected.
- The story loses its way amongst the action.