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ups: classic casual gaming, easy, fun, inexpensive, solid multiplayer mode
downs: overly simple, appeals to casual and not hardcore gamers

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Break 'Em All: A New Take on Classic Breakout
game: Break 'Em All
three star
posted by: Laurie Taylor
publisher: D3Publisher of America
developer: D3Publisher of America
date posted: 11:59 PM Wed Jul 19th, 2006
last revision: 03:17 PM Fri Jul 21st, 2006

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Click to read.Break \'Em All for the Nintendo DS is a remake of Brickles or Breakout with a few added features. Break \'Em All is only a slight evolution from the classic Breakout games, featuring nothing radically new, just minor improvements to the standard Breakout formula. Improvements include being able to play using the DS stylus, which is incredibly responsive, and multiplayer play. While these are simple changes, Breakout\'s classic formula is further enhanced with them. Many gamers may find Break \'Em All a bit too classic and too retro for sustained play, but casual gamers will appreciate the simple, classic play-especially at the price ($19.99 new at Amazon and EB Games).

Break \'Em All, like most of the Breakout-styled games, is essentially a single player game of Pong where players must bounce a ball off a paddlle to destroy bricks. Breakout clones, in all forms, have been seen on every system: iPods, cellphones, PDAs, computers, and consoles. And, given Breakout\'s extensive history stretching back to the 1970s, the proliferation of all things paddle, ball, and block makes perfect sense. Like Pong, Breakout\'s simple formula allowed it to be easily switched from one system to another, and the easy formula enticed players to the game again and again. Even with Breakout\'s long history, Break \'Em All still manages to bring something new to the mix.

Break \'Em All adds decent music, animated backgrounds, and additional game play modes. Break \'Em All has three game play modes. First, Tokoton Mode, or classic Breakout mode, has over 50 predesigned levels and over 3,000,000 random levels. Winning the game, the player is classified into different levels of life form evolution, from amoeba to Supreme Being.

The second mode is Quest Mode, which builds from typical game play and adds a new level of difficulty by requiring the player to hit the ball into a particular opening to progress to the next level. At the end of each section of the quest players must also attack and defeat an enemy. A nice addition, Quest Mode can also be played with up to 4 total players by using the DS\'s download play.

Before beginning either Tokoton or Quest mode, players can customize game play options for powerups. These include: slowing or speeding up the ball speed, catching or mirroring the ball when it hits the paddle, making the ball split into 2 or 5 balls, adding a barrier beneath the paddle or making a clone of the paddle, changing the paddle\'s size, and turning the ball into a laser (breaking all blocks in its path) or a bomb (breaking adjacent bricks). Break \'Em All also offers survival mode where 2-8 players can compete against each other. In survival mode, players can choose a different paddle type and the paddle types evolve into better paddles for defense.

Each of these modes, especially the multiplayer play, reinvigorate Break \'Em All\'s otherwise standard take on Breakout. Break \'Em All succeeds greatly as a casual game. So for all you casual block-breakers out there, Break \'Em All might be right up your alley. Break \'Em All is the right difficulty level, time requirement, and cost to be a successful casual game.

While Break \'Em All isn\'t a splashy new title, it is a solid casual game. Break \'Em All\'s strength lies in its simplicity for single or multiplayer play. Gaming is poised to become the next mass medium; however, it still has a few hurdles to overcome, including greater public awareness and greater financial stability. Gaming nowadays needs large budget productions, but simple, cheaper, and, yet, addicting games like Break \'Em All could help to stabilize the increasingly expensive and uncertain domain of game development. Mobile gaming, still largely tied to cell phones, helps to popularize gaming to new audiences and helps gaming by providing a revenue source for stability on larger gaming productions. Break \'Em All is on the Nintendo DS, but it serves the same purpose by functioning as an easily made game that is an inexpensive choice for players to play alone or with others.

Break \'Em All is solid, but not terribly interesting for anyone who has played other Breakout games. However, in terms of ease for new players - in price and simplicity - Break \'Em All represents a needed direction in the gaming industry and a breath of fresh air for all you sick of shooting aliens and slicing vampires. If this last statement describes you, then pick up this revamp of an old, simple, classic.

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