|Inside Macintosh Shareware - April 2005|
April 29, 2005 | Marcus Albers
Welcome one and all to the April issue of Inside Macintosh Shareware. There will be no April-foolery in here, though. Just four reviews of four more shareware game titles for the Macintosh. We've got the brick-busting extravaganza that is Super DX-Ball Deluxe, side-shooting action with Space Strike, bubble-bursting with Bubblomania X, and some grid-iron fun with 2 Minute Football 3D. Special thanks to Ian Beck for providing us with the Space Strike and Bubblomania X reviews this month!
Super DX-Ball DeluxeOne of the most addicting experiences I've ever had in an arcade was the first time that I plunked a quarter into an Arkanoid machine. Initially, it look like Super Breakout on my 2600 with better graphics. But then, I started playing, and found a game much deeper than the standard ball-and-paddle game. The power-ups added a new dimension to the game that kept me plugging in quarter after quarter. After I bought the game for my Commodore 64 at home, I was hopelessly addicted to it.
Since its release, Arkanoid has been cloned more times than an Scottish sheep. One of the most memorable was Mega-Ball, a game released for the Commodore Amiga back in the early 90s. Here-in lies the roots of Super DX-Ball Deluxe. The original author of DX-Ball wrote the game so that his wife could play a game similar to Mega-Ball on their Windows PC. Cornerstone TSP has brought this game to the Macintosh and updated it with new levels and other surprises.So, what exactly sets Super DX-Ball apart from the crowd? The game plays very smoothly, and the ball seems to bounce at natural angles off of everything, a flaw that plagues many Breakout-style games. The power-ups are particularly fun. There are the standard ones, like increasing the paddle size, slowing the ball down, and even laser blasters. But there are some unusual power-ups to be had, as well. There is the thru-brick power-up, that will transform your ball into an unstoppable force, smashing through every brick it comes to without bouncing until it hits a side or the top of the screen. Great for clearing out massive amounts of bricks from a level quickly. The fireball power-up will turn your ball into a fireball that destroys not only the brick that it touches, but some of the bricks around it, as well. But, not all of the power-ups are helpful. Some, like the mini-paddle power-up, which turns your paddle into a sliver of its former self, are very counter productive. Power-ups like the kill-paddle power-up are down right nasty. The selection of power-ups in the game definitely keeps it interesting.
The registered game also features a massive selection of levels. There are the standard Arkanoid-style brick levels, with many appearing to be a picture made up of the bricks. These are the types of levels that Arkanoid fans will find most familiar. But thrown into the mix are non-standard shaped bricks. Instead of the normal rectangles, there are multi-sided polygons of every imaginable shape and angle. The levels that utilize these bricks end up looking like a mosaic from a church window (read: very cool), but the most interesting thing about these levels are the angles that your ball will bounce off of these bricks. Again, staying very true to physics, your ball will bounce at equal and opposite angles off of the sides, sending it in all sorts of directions. These levels can be very difficult to complete. Luckily, if you spend too long trying to get one or two bricks on a particular level, the game will take pity on you and destroy the bricks for you, allowing you to finally pass to the next level. From a level perspective, the only thing that I wish DX-Ball had was a level editor so that I could make my own levels.
With a plethora of levels, some nice (and not-so-nice) power-ups, a silky-smooth physics engine, a a few Easter Eggs thrown in for good measure, Super DX-Ball Deluxe is hard not to recommend for fans of the ball-and-paddle genre. At a price of $15.99, you should probably just stop reading and go get it now.