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Publisher: Mac Joy    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.2

Bricks of Atlantis
April 19, 2006 | Dustin Smith

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Simple games are fun. Most of the time, the simpler the game, the more enjoyable it is. I mean, what can be simpler than moving the mouse left and right trying to keep a ball aloft? The more time the ball stays in the air, the faster it will go, and the more fun and challenging it will get. Put some obstacles in the way of the ball and add an objective like destroying some bricks to advance levels and you have yourself a game called Breakout or something of that sort. The majority of Breakout clones have improved on this formula even more by sticking moveable "enemies" that float around the board trying to screw with your ball and also by giving the paddle or bat or ship or "thing that hits the ball" the ability to collect power-ups that escape from destroyed blocks. Other challenges include hundreds of different level designs and different types of bricks, such as a rampaging duck made of silver bricks.

I must admit that I have been on vacation from the Breakout scene for a while, but I don't ever recall seeing a clone that is based around an entire theme instead of improved graphics. Seriously, how graphically enhanced does a Breakout clone really need to be before it gets utterly ridiculous?

Fortunately, the aptly named company Mac Joy has created an enjoyable Breakout clone that does just that: it breaks out from the bevy of impersonators and tries something different. Mac Joy's "Bricks of…" series is an entertaining series of games that is based around presentation and theme, not just new graphics, and Bricks of Atlantis is no different. Well, it is different, it's just that…dang it. Just look at the screenshots, you'll see what I mean.

The game doesn't let you down if you are looking for a new and enjoyable way to spend a few afternoons or kill some time. With over 120 levels contained in ten level packs, including a bonus level pack that will be unlocked when you complete the first ten packs, it should take a while to complete the game. That's not including the fact that all of the level packs have three difficulty levels to master. The levels are no different when you increase the difficulty, which is a slight disappointment. It would have been nice to unlock certain elements when you beat level packs on different difficulties, making it really worth your while when you step up to the challenge. But what does change is the number of lives, the initial ball speed, and the score to beat to put your name amongst the top five Atlantean brick bashers. Superficially, it seems like more of a challenge on a more difficult setting, but when it comes down to it you can die just as easily on Easy as you can on Hard.

That's not saying that there weren't aspects of this game I enjoyed. On the contrary, I actually had a lot of fun playing the game. Bricks of Atlantis sports a slick under-the-ocean theme. There are about five different backgrounds that all feel like you are exploring some deep undersea mystery. The bricks are designed to fit the style of game as well. Some of the bricks have seaweed and anemones growing from them, some are sea sponges that deteriorate with each hit, and some of the bricks are jellyfish that move about the level in a pre-determined fashion. Other underwater enhancements include a bubble stream your ball creates as it jets through the water to its inevitable collisions, as well as the brigade of fish that assist you in either smashing bricks or increasing your score.


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