Over the past year we’ve enjoyed quite a few “Recharged” titles from Atari, which are essentially neon-infused modern takes on some of the brand’s classic arcade formulas. The latest one is Breakout: Recharged, bringing back some brick breaking to modern consoles and PCs. We took a look at the PlayStation version.
If you’ve played the Recharged versions of Asteroids, Centipede or Black Widow already, then you kind of know what to expect here – a version of a classic arcade concept with a few tweaks but which ultimately stays true to its origins as well. In this case, those origins are of a classic brick-breaker – you know, the kind where you bounce a ball upwards with a small paddle to try and clear a level from all its bricks.
Breakout was the pioneer in the genre, which arguably peaked with Arkanoid – The Revenge of Doh in the 1980s, a hit both in the arcades and on home computers, including Atari’s own ST. Breakout: Recharged doesn’t deviate much from the classic arcade gameplay, though it does offer three different modes through which you can enjoy its arcade option. Classic mode is closest to the original Breakout experience as it gives you three lives and doesn’t feature any power-ups, while Recharged only gives you one life – but adds a wide range of power-ups into the mix.
The third option was easily our favorite, as Classic Recharged gives you three lives to play with as well as all the familiar power-ups – which of course include have a temporary gun mounted to your paddle, a slightly larger paddle and a way to slow down the ball when things get too hectic. In a lot of ways, Classic Recharged is a lot like Revenge of Doh, though with the Recharged aesthetic. Breakout: Recharged also introduces a Tetris-like aspect though – where bricks drop in from the top to create an ‘endless’ effect – though it does tend to keep the screen more empty than in a traditional level-based approach.
A more objective-based way to play is still there though, and comes in the shape of a challenge mode – which is especially fun for those who enjoy chasing achievements in their games. But while a lot of Breakout: Recharged will feel familiar – and that includes different bricks types that require you to hit them more than once and even bricks that will fire back at you – there is also something that definitely wasn’t there back in the 70s and 80s: a cooperative multiplayer mode.
Co-op Breakout essentially means you get half of the screen to handle by yourself, so it definitely helps to play with someone who is at a similar skill level as it’s hard to help each other out. We couldn’t help shake the feeling that multiplayer would be better in some kind of competitive setting, but clearing screens together is still fun as you get to cheer each other on, which sometimes is all you can do while the ball is “stuck” on the other side of the screen.
Breakout: Recharged is one of the best looking Breakout games thus far, and there have been a ton of them. The gameplay hasn’t changed from what we were already familiar with so if you enjoy the genre you’ll enjoy this one too. It’s also a fun game that you can play with non-gamers as it’s so easy to grasp, and we can see grandparents who remember the original also enjoying this with grandchildren. It doesn’t innovate, but it does reintroduce us to a real classic.