PaperBall from e-giraffa is a Breakout game, and this time with graphics that look like childlike scribbles made on bits of paper, like one of our former review games Androkids. The crayon type graphics might be a gimmick but this can't conceal the fact that PaperBall is a well thought out Breakout game with bags of playability.
As mentioned, the graphics look like a game drawn on gridded paper, hence the title. Despite the apparent simplicity of the graphics a lot of work has gone into them. Bricks have several variations, and there is plenty of animation from pick-ups to the zig-zaggy explosions and particle trails. Everything moves to some extent, and even the menus and the way the screen shifts over to fit them proves that simple drawings do not mean poor graphics.
At 15Mb the music forms a large portion of the game's distribution, and it's worth it because it's great. The wavering female vocal sounds grabbed my attention as soon as the game was started and the hip-hop type beats that fade in work really well. The sound effects are simple but always pleasant. The common bat hit sound is not intrusive and each pick-up has its own sound.
The most important part of a game of this type is the basic ball handling. The speed and size of the ball and the way that it reacts to the bat is crucial, and PaperBall gets it right. No amount of pick-ups can save a breakout game that lacks this dynamic but when it works, as it does here, the game is addictive even on levels with no pick-ups or special blocks.
A page of instructions tells you what pickups are what (a feature often missing in other games).
There are moving bricks, and bricks that push the ball around a pre-defined path. There are exploding bricks too, and boy do these explode! One can take out a level. One of the cooler upgrades draws a dotted line along the bounce path of the ball allowing ultra-accurate aiming, and more standard upgrades like multiball, a fireball that goes through everything, lasers and even homing missiles are all there too.
The levels will auto-destruct if you're stuck on those last few blocks for too long, and the pace of the game is always fast and fun.
There are 120 levels divided into categories, but I found myself quickly racing through them on the default skill level, and managed to complete half of them in a few hours. More difficulty adds negative pick-ups like the bat shrinker, as well as more speed to the ball. There is a level designer too but a random level option would have been even better, or even some sort of story.
PaperBall is not an original idea, we've seen it many times before, but it does what it does well. There is graphical polish with a distinctive style, great audio and basically a good game design. It's been a few years since I wanted to play a Breakout game to conclusion but I did here. Of the four or five games in this genre I've reviewed for Bytten, PaperBall is the best.
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