All about Brick Breaker
As the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Sony Playstation 3 vie for sales in the â€œnext generationâ€ of console gaming – the Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry would seem to pale in comparison, if one were to look only at raw gaming power. Yet the BlackBerry has quite the fan base for a mobile device. In fact, some users refer to the device as a CrackBerry because of its addicting nature, however this is mainly because of its email and web features.
As BlackBerry users can attest, the game Brick Breaker, included by default, is itself an addicting game despite its 256 color, 2-D graphics and single-button game-play. This passion for Brick Breaker extends to the highest levels of corporate America – the CEO and Chairman of one of Wall Streetâ€™s largest investment banks had to have Brick Breaker uninstalled from his BlackBerry after finding it â€œtoo distractingâ€, only to have it put back on shortly after! His high score â€“ about 16,000.
Basic Game Play
The premise of Brick Breaker, like the million other Breakout copy-cats for those who have been living in a cave for the last 35-plus years, is that bricks are arranged in a pattern at the top of the screen. The player controls a paddle that can move left and right. Players start with three lives.
The game begins when the player launches a ball towards the bricks. Each time the ball hits a brick it breaks the brick and deflects away. If the ball deflects back towards the paddle, the player must maneuver the paddle so that the ball will deflect back towards the bricks. If the player lets the ball fall past the paddle, a life is lost.
Bricks can take one or more hits to break, depending on the type of brick, as indicated by its color. Silver bricks are obstacles, and the ball cannot break them. Each direct hit to a brick is worth 10 points. The ball speeds up periodically as the game proceeds, however after a certain speed, the ball returns to its original slow speed. If the paddle and the ball strike each other a certain number of times, all bricks on the board shift down, although once the board shifts a certain distance down, it ceases to shift down further.
Occasionally, when a ball breaks a brick, a bonus pill will fall down vertically. If the player catches a pill, they receive 50 points and some game-play change. There are nine types of pills:
- Bomb (ball) â€“ the ball becomes a bomb. When it hits a brick, it will explode, breaking neighboring bricks.
- Catch (paddle) â€“ the ball sticks to the paddle when the player catches it. The player can then aim the ball back upwards, and launch the ball with the spacebar.
- Flip â€“ perhaps the most hated bonus pill in Brick Breaker, the flip pill inverts the controls such that left becomes right and vice versa. Catching any other pill returns the controls to normal.
- Gun (paddle) â€“ gives the player three missiles (â€œammoâ€) which can be fired by the space button. Only one missile can appear on the screen at any time. If the missile breaks a brick, the player receives 50 points. Missiles can break silver bricks.
- Large (paddle) â€“ extends the paddle, making ball control slightly easier.
- Laser (paddle) â€“ gives the player the ability to shoot lasers by hitting the spacebar. Lasers fire from the left and right sides of the paddle. One direct laser hit is equivalent to one-half direct ball hit. So two laser hits are required to break a brick, and only 5 points are awarded per hit. Only two lasers fired per side can appear on the screen at any given time, for a maximum of four lasers on screen total.
- Life (paddle) â€“ gives the player an extra life, but resets the paddle to the basic paddle without any bonuses.
- Multi (ball) â€“ puts four balls in play. The player must only keep one ball in play at any time to continue play. If the player catches the multi pill while the ball is near the bottom of the screen, the balls reverse and launch upwards automatically.
- Wrap â€“ allows the player to move the paddle past the screen edges, onto the opposite side of the screen (in other words, wraps the left screen edge to the right edge and vice versa). The caveat with the wrap pill is that the paddle must move all the way past the edge of the screen before appearing on the other side.
Note that some pills affect the ball or paddle only. Catching one ball bonus after another ball bonus will cancel the first bonus, which is true for paddle bonuses also. However, ball and paddle pill bonuses can be in play simultaneously. So for example, if the player catches a Large pill followed by a Multi pill, they will have both a large paddle and multiple balls in play. If the player then catches a Bomb pill, they will still have a large paddle, but will only have one ball remaining in play.
Advanced Game Play
While Brick Breaker is extremely easy to learn, it is deceptively hard to beat. Few players ever reach the end of the game (which actually returns them to the beginning of the game, carrying over their points to the next round). The core strategy is obviously to gain the most points before all lives are lost. To achieve this, there are a number of sub-strategies to keep in mind during game play.
- Learn to stay still. Move the paddle deliberately when you do move it. Also, set up the game to suit your style of play. The game options screen allows players to choose their paddle speeds and enable or disable paddle acceleration. Choose according to how you prefer the paddle to react.
- Pick up all pills! At 50 points each, this is the easiest way to assure the most points are collected.
- Beware the Flip pill. There is some controversy over taking the flip pill, as it can result in lost lives if the inverted controls confuse the player. Learn to deal with it, if possible, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Also, remember any pill will reset the flipped controls, so if a flip pill is in your reach, and another pill is following, try to grab both, even if you donâ€™t feel comfortable with the flipped controls.
- If you get a Gun pill, try to use your ammo before picking up another pill. Aim for silver bricks first – since these cannot be broken without the gun, this can result in an extra 150 points per Gun pill, not to mention it can help clear the board of unnecessary obstacles. If the board has no silver bricks, aim for bricks that are ready to break next, since they would otherwise be worth only 10 more points each.
- If you get a Laser pill, learn to sweep the laser across the level as you play. Keep firing, even if you have no particular target. Clear out as many bricks as you can with the laser. Note that the laser does not penetrate silver bricks, which may leave some bricks in play even with skilled use of the laser.
- Decide whether a life pill that is out of reach is worth grabbing anyway. Sometimes, it is possible to get the life pill or the ball, but not both. In this case, decide whether you have the rest of the level under control, and react accordingly. Taking the extra life nets you an extra fifty points and leaves you with the same number of remaining lives – provided you donâ€™t lose any more lives.
- Have a strategy for each level. The only way to develop this is through repeated game play. Some levels, notably including level 1, can be defeated without the ball ever returning to the paddle, depending on how the player launches the ball. For level 1, cast the first throw all the way to the right. Occasionally, this will result in an instant win. Donâ€™t forget to grab the falling pills!
- Level 16 is – hands down – the most difficult level in the game. Level 16 is a set of silver bricks, arranged in a â€œUâ€ shape, filled with bricks of varying colors. The most obvious strategy is to simply get the ball into the â€œUâ€ and have it break as many bricks as possible. This turns out to be quite difficult in practice, however, as the bricks shift down during game-play, eventually resulting in a one-brick sized margin between the paddle and the ball, making it virtually impossible to maintain any degree of control. The key here is to have ample lives to spare so that you can beat the board without keeping track of exactly how many balls are lost. Alternately, once the board shifts down one level, dropping the ball intentionally can stop the board from shifting down further – potentially saving lives for later boards.
- Level 13 is also quite difficult for the same reason as level 16 – there is limited access to the bricks, but there are plenty of silver bricks. The level falls as the ball is played until the player is unable to manage the ball with only a brick or two of clearance. Again, intentionally allowing the ball to drain can help avoid this. Another strategy is to control the ball carefully as it returns down the left chute. Return the ball with the most oblique angle possible, trying to let the falling ball hit the left-most edge of the paddle. Typically, this will return the ball on the same trajectory, allowing it to clear more bricks.
- Maximize your backlight timeout. This will drain your battery faster, but will prevent the screen from blanking during a crucial moment of game play.
- Submit your high scores! Find out your rank and brag about it to your friends. If you donâ€™t, no one will ever know how great you are at Brick Breaker.
- Take a Brick Breaker break occasionally. If you take Brick Breaker too seriously, you may end up with no friends to call on your BlackBerry! Try to maintain a healthy balance.
Good luck, and happy brick breaking!