A-Z Of Atari
B is For.......
Breakout is one of those games that has been reinvented countless times over the years as its essential mix of addictiveness, intuitive controls and hard to master game play have proven to be a winner over the years.
Atari were the pioneers of the Breakout game and its Programmers included two very prominent people in the world of computers and technology, although at the time they were just another couple of cool cat Atari employees.
Breakout - Let's Break It Down
For those who are new to Breakout, let's rewind for a second and use wikipedia's definition of Breakout :
"In Breakout the video game, a layer of bricks lines the top third of the screen
A ball travels across the screen, bouncing off the top and side walls of the screen
When a brick is hit, the ball bounces away and the brick is destroyed
The player loses a turn when the ball touches the bottom of the screen.
To prevent this from happening, the player has a movable paddle to bounce the ball upward, keeping it in play"
Simple concept now throw into the mix the devilish mechanics of the fact that if you clear one row of blocks then interestingly difficult things begin to happen to how you experience the game, such as........
"The player has three turns to try to clear two screens of bricks.
Yellow bricks earn one point each, green bricks earn three points, orange bricks earn five points and the top-level red bricks score seven points each.
The paddle shrinks to one-half its size after the ball has broken through the red row and hit the upper wall.
Ball speed increases at specific intervals: after four hits, after twelve hits, and after making contact with the orange and red rows. "
Now you can see why this game is a classic
Did You Know?
"The highest score achievable for one player is 896.
This is done by eliminating two screens of bricks worth 448 points each.
Once the second screen of bricks is destroyed, the ball in play harmlessly bounces off empty walls until the player relinquishes the game, as no additional screens are provided."
However, a secret way to score beyond the 896 maximum is to play the game in two-player mode.
If "Player One" completes the first screen on his or her third and last ball, then immediately and deliberately allows the ball to "drain, "
Player One's second screen is transferred to "Player Two" as a third screen, allowing Player Two to score a maximum of 1,344 points if he is adept enough to keep the third ball in play that long. Once the third screen is eliminated, the game is over. "
Steve & Steve
When it came to programming this legendary game Atari turned to a guy named Steve Jobs and his friend Steve Wozniak to make the game that was designed to be the 1 player follow up to Pong. The challenge for Jobs & Wozniak was to make the game with the least micro chips as possible to reduce costs. Wozniak was the engineer and Jobs was the tester. Between this dream team they managed to create a video game that used 44 micro chips rather than the bloated 150 to 170 that some other games had used!
The odd thing is that when Atari tried to manufacture the game they had to modify the number of chips used as it was difficult to reproduce Jobs & Woz's. Therefore eventually the number of chips used was closer to 100. Apparently the game play was the same whether you played the 44 or the 100 chip version....
Interestingly when Jobs and Wozniak went on to form Apple they cited the making of Breakout as a key influence in the Apple computer
Did You Know?
"The Breakout arcade cabinet uses a black and white monitor however, the monitor has strips ofcoloured cellophane placed over it so that the bricks appear to be in colour"
Any Port In A Storm
The game was a success in the arcades as people lapped up the addictive & devilish game play. The success in the arcade obviously then led to home console ports of the game.
Two versions appeared on the Atari Video Pinball machine, these were a one and two player version with a variant called Break Away.
The 2600 version was essentially the same game as the original but with a few minor tweaks. There were 6 rows of blocks to break though.
There was an addition of a Breakthru ball also which went through balls without bouncing.
The original iPod had a secret feature where you could hold down the centre button on about menu and then Breakout would appear.
Breakout was released on the App Store in 2008 and this version had Super Breakout as well as the original game. It also included some updated game play, skins, and modes.
Did You Know?
"Google has incorporated a neat easter egg into Google Images.
If you type in Atari Breakout into Google Images you will get to play Breakout " using the images as blocks. It plays quite a good game and if you need a Breakoutfix at work it's ideal."
Microsoft Game room:
The Game Room Service for XBOX360 made Breakout available to Play as a free download for the service.
Did You Know?
"Taco Bell gave the game away free with kids meals in 2010. The game was on a CD ROM and was labelled Super Breakout but was in fact the original Breakout"
Atari Follow Ups
Atari followed up the success of the original with a few variations on the block busting theme. In Super Breakout, there are three different and more advanced game types from which the player can choose:
Double gives the player control of two bats at the same time.
Cavity retains the single bat and ball of Breakout, but two other balls are enclosed on the other side of the wall, which the player must free before they, too, can be used to destroy additional bricks
Progressive also has the single bat and ball, but as the ball hits the paddle, the entire wall gradually advances downwards step by step, gaining in speed the longer the ball lasts in play.
Breakout 2000 came along for the Atari Jaguar game console.
The objective of the game remains exactly the same as the original but this time it takes place in a 3D arena.
The game features good and bad power-ups making it similar to Arkanoid.
There are also different variants on the standard bricks as there are unbreakable bricks, multi-hit bricks and stacked bricks.
This version has a story line attached to it whereby you are on a mission to destroy the evil Batnix.
The game play has been augmented to include sequences where you are being chased by a giant, ferocious wolf and battling a mummy in the darkest depths of an ancient Egyptian tomb!
It also has varied locations which include a prison cell, a castle, a farm and outer space. It also features challenge modes, bonuses, and a multiplayer mode.
Atari released a version of Breakout in 2011 which is again similar to the original with the main difference being the addition of improved graphics and deeper game play.
New features include power ups (Fire, Acid, Splitting, and Grenade Balls), new brick types (Exploding, Mystery, x4, and Metal bricks), and something called Boost Control. The faster your ball goes, the more points you'll earn.
Did You Know?
"If you tap in the Mario Theme onto the Nintendo 3DS screen while using the 3DS browser you will get to play a cool variation of Breakout"
Of course there have been many copy cat variations over the years and here's some of the many that have tried to tap into the awesome Breakout formula.
Micro Vision's Block Buster
So many variations have come along over the tast 30 or so years.
The thing is, it's a game that's still getting re released in one form or another to this day!
All Hail Breakout One Of The Elder Statesmen Of Video Games That's Alive & Kicking To This Day!