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Hyperballoid HD
 

Hyperballoid HD

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PS3
Category: Arcade
 
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Developer: Alawar - iSquared Games
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment

Features:

1-4 players / no online play
86MB gave save
PSN Network game
1080p
Rated G

Hyperballoid HD will be familiar to anyone who's played a brick-busting game before. You remember…bouncing ball, paddle to keep the ball in play, and plenty of bricks to destroy with the aforementioned ball. Like most modern brick-busters, Hyperballoid HD tosses power-ups into the mix that do things like arm your paddle with lasers, increase its width, and split the ball into three balls. Does Hyerballoid HD have the stuff to keep up with some of the most addictive games in history? Read on.

Graphics

Hyperballoid HD has a somewhat bland presentation. While most of its visuals and special effects are nice to look at, they really are nothing to marvel upon. The game runs entirely in 1080p, but can seem a bit distant or small at times. I found that I had to strain in some areas to see properly. That being said, there's not much to see apart from a few impressive particle effects with some of the more flashy power-ups. The game's backgrounds can range from either futuristic or ancient motif typed themes. There really is nothing we haven’t seen before, although some of the brick formations (such as those shaped like weapons, ankhs, spaceships, and other objects) are intricate and detailed. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks good, though it's hard to pinpoint any particular HD-worthy moment. Backgrounds are mostly static and feature pictures of space (for the Planet World campaign), or ruins (for the Ancient World campaign).

Sound

The music is largely unremarkable; there's nothing here that assaults your senses but at the same time you're unlikely to find yourself humming tunes from the game once it has been turned off. The official game-site describes the music as "a bass-heavy techno soundtrack," which is an accurate description, even if it does make it sound a bit more interesting than the reality. In fairness the game is a lot less entertaining with the music turned off, so leave it on — overall it does a good job of setting the mood for block-destruction.

In terms of sound effects it’s also pretty much standard. Gamers will find the usual rock crushing sounds along with the odd explosion. The aural quality is never questioned although I did think the effects sounded a bit soft in places. In areas of heavy action you would think the sound would be ramped up to match the visuals, but at times it felt fairly weak. Nothing to complain about though — overall it is more than accurate.

Gameplay

There's no real storyline to Hyperballoid HD, you only have two areas (or worlds) of play, each with 100 total levels to clear. The resemblance to Arkanoid is immediate. As with Arkanoid you must clear the blocks and or obstacles with your controller. Bouncing your ball into all of the blocks above you is tougher than destroying them as you go. Your paddle can move at a variety of speeds, from very slow using the d-pad, to speedy using the analog stick, to hyper drive holding R1 or L1 with the analog stick and finally to ludicrous speed by holding both R1 and L1 with the analog stick. It takes a bit of practice for any of the control options, especially if you are not too familiar with the PS3 controller. I had very little problems settling into a groove, but using the L1 and R1 in combination with the analog stick is pure mayhem. You would have to be almost inhuman to figure out that option. One thing of note is that game really doesn’t have any real use of the control scheme, although I do believe there is incentive to use it in the form of a trophy to unlock.

Within the myriad of aesthetically-pleasing blocks that you must destroy above you, there are shiny blocks that contain power-ups or gems. The gems are of more value since collecting three of them will gift you a free life, though it is the power-ups that provide the entertainment. In all there are over thirty power-ups. Some are really power-neutrals or even worse, power-downs, meaning they will knock down your ability to break blocks. Others will aid you in your block-busting including cannon fire, flamethrowers, free-lives, speed-ups, or the always cool multi-ball. In terms of power-downs there is the dreaded "slow-down" that slows down your ball and it is tougher than most would think. Also, there's one that makes your paddle transparent until you lose a life and will sometimes cause your ball to fly off in a strange and unpredictable patterns. The latter is extremely frustrating, causing you to want to hurl your controller across the room.

The majority of bricks/levels in Hyperballoid HD aren't pushovers: most require several hits to destroy, some blink in and out of the playfield, others move around the screen, and the toughest ones are invulnerable to the basic ball. The power-ups are your way past these obstacles. It's disappointing to find that most of the 100 levels in Hyperballoid HD end up being boring to finish, with levels ending in a whimper rather than in excitement because you've spent the last few minutes trying to eradicate a few recalcitrant bricks. In fact, the power-up you'll probably most look forward to seeing in Hyperballoid HD is the one that allows you to skip a level once you've cleared the majority of bricks off the screen.

If all of that sounds somewhat simple so far, it should. Hyperballoid HD was apparently developed for the casual gamer to enjoy, and with fairly easy to simple controls. The easy-going gameplay is really not too taxing, perfect to please this audience. And with a relatively cheap price tag, exactly one-hundred levels and trophy-support, gamers will also get value for money.

One real drawback to Hyperballoid HD is the lack of online play. The game lends itself perfectly to playing other minds over the net. You can play up to four people on one screen, but with some of the levels having size issues the four or even two player modes are even more taxing on the eyes.


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