Developer: Alstertouch
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The great thing about classic arcade concepts is that, because they are so simple, they can be successfully reinterpreted in a myriad of different ways. The foundation is so rock solid it’s hard to screw it up. Bricks is the latest of these successful reinterpretations.

bricks 1bricks 3Bricks is Breakout by way of the Ouroboros, or the ancient image of the snake eating its own tail. Instead of guiding a paddle at one end of the screen to hit a ball into bricks at the other end, here the ball bounces within a circular cage of bricks players rotate themselves. Tracking trajectory becomes much trickier, and nearly finished boards get even tougher as players must spin the screen completely around to knock off two adjacent bricks. But because the core of Breakout works so well, even a seemingly drastic change like this one just feels like a logical next step.

Bricks also gives players a surprising amount of options, and oddly enough choosing to make the game more difficult usually makes it more fun. For example, players can spin the board either through touch controls or by physically rotating their device. The touch controls are definitely more precise, but the motion controls make the experience more enjoyably direct. Meanwhile, at the start of each round players pull back the ball to determine how fast it will go. Obviously, a slower ball is easier to maneuver around, but the frantic unpredictability of a fast ball is way less boring. Hilariously, sometimes the board even manages to complete itself in just seconds using this method.

bricks 4bricks 5Bricks steadily introduces new elements like transporters, multiball modes, shields, and bricks with special properties like rendering the ball inert. However, there can only be so many tricks. The game feels a tad slight, and the almost overly minimal art style doesn’t help. While the bold primary colors and slick, angular elements look great on the menus, in-game the figures are a little too small and the playfield just feels empty. Fortunately, the soundtrack sounds like what might be the greatest shopping mall/elevator music of all time, and the game smartly offers it for purchase on the settings screen.

Check out Bricks for a terrific twisted take on beloved brick-breaking. Just remember to actually make it harder for yourself for once.


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