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Redesigning Breakout

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (130 votes)
Comments (24) | Views (3,707)

JayRedesigning BreakoutIf someone were to say to you, "Hey, I'm going to redesign the game of Breakout," you might envision one of virtually thousands of clones that have been created of the classic game from the very early years of video games. But that would likely be a "recreation" not a "redesign" per se. It would take a very clever game designer to actually reinvent the game, or to make something wholly different using the same basic form of classic Breakout gameplay.

Yoshio Ishii, of Nekogames, succeeds in this ambitious endeavor with his latest game, Redesigning Breakout. And while the game is still about destroying bricks to clear the board, what's gone is the boredom the game usually suffers from when trying to get that last brick or two. Instead, what we have is more of a twitch game where reflexes rule the landscape of a simulated (and antiquated) vector graphics display.

Each hit of the ball with the paddle sends the ball careening back upward at a much higher velocity than it started with, though subsequent hits don't increase it again. There are just two speeds: super slow and wicked fast. The ball will return to its slower velocity if you let it hit the bottom, which would be considered a "miss" in more classic versions of the game.

The challenge is against the clock. The faster you can eliminate the blocks and move on to the next level, the more points you will score before your time is up. You have just 200 seconds in which to play.

Analysis: While many of you may not get too excited about "yet another Breakout", Ishii's Breakout is like normal Breakout the way a thrashing water moccasin is like a puppy. The gameplay is there, but it's been transformed into an entirely different experience. And from a game design perspective, this is an intriguing example of injecting creativity into an all but worn-out concept.

Downsides to this excursion include the choice of an old-school display. While it may be a nod to the early years of video games, it won't likely make you want to play this one again and again. Sure the levels change shape in the form of the number of level you are on, but that novelty quickly wears thin. Also, there is an inherent quirk to the Flash Player that causes it to pause every now and then, most likely due to what the CPU is doing. During a twitch game such as this is, that pause can break the zen-like feeling of being "in the zone", and the game loses some luster because of it.

Still, it's a remarkable game, and worth a play through even if only for the game design perspective.

Play Redesigning Breakout


The sound design is beautiful.


First try: 30930.

The "kring" sound of getting a lot of bricks at once is strangely addicting


That was intense. This is the most creative game remix I have ever played. It feels exciting just to try to get the ball over and over again.


First try: 54680
Interesting. Not sure I'd want to play it too often. I can't even watch the bricks or try to plan anything because all my attention is focused on catching the ball.
and wow, when you miss and have to watch the ball bounce around before it comes back, it seems soooooo painfully sloooooooow.


You nailed it when you said it was a "twitch" game Jay!

I think that trying to bounce off the back wall is a helpful stategy.

Definitely a unique take-off on the classic. I like the sound effects.

If it is indeed a vector game, it would be cool to be able to resize the playing field.


Oh man, this is awesome. I love it.


56510 points, just started loading level 8 when the timer ran out :(

not much strategy to this one. just...GO. and don't miss. "water moccasin" indeed. :D


ok i'm officially addicted. 70120 points, reached level 9. Something about the game that nobody has mentioned--the first block you hit is worth 10 points, each successive block you hit without missing the ball is worth 10 more than the previous hit, up to a limit of 100 points per block. If you miss, the scoring starts back at 10.

So not only do you need to keep the ball in play because missing slows it down, but it also slightly increases your score.

It's a shame that the game is always the same length of time--I wish there was some way of extending the game play to higher levels. I wonder, since the levels depict numbers--there must have been a fixed limit to the total number of levels. What happens if you reach the end? Is it even possible given the time constraints? Rarely, I've somehow managed to clear nearly all the blocks in the first few seconds of a new level.


I have yet to have any problems with pausing in this game, but frankly I love the stylized graphics. It could only be better if it was neon green! but never mind that. I am quite pleased with this one. I didn't know quite what to expect at first because, though jay's description is accurate, I feel like it's hard to describe in a way that makes sense to anyone before they play it.

I love how it takes the advantages of the old breakout and makes them disadvantages, IE, slowly moving the ball towards the playing field until you can shoot it at just the right place, and getting your points while it is slow. Good job on a simple workover of something I got tired of long ago.


"the way a thrashing water moccasin is like a puppy"

This is the reason why I love your review(s).

Great redesign by the way. Very addicting.

[Edit: Actually that's Psychotronic's line. And you're right, his reviews are great! -Jay]


You can actually hit more blocks per bounce if you try to get the ball on either the left tip or right tip of the paddle. It's really gratifying to hit the ball once and see half of the map gone. =)


I think this game could have done with a change of colors part way through, for instance like that game awhile back where you had to find the balls by shooting a ray of light at them, if this game changed the colored lines to blue, green, yellow etc. it may have added to the game.


Love the sound--the bounce provides a nice percussion line against the sound of the exploding bricks.

I didn't think it would have as much replay value as it does, but I agree that the vector look is cute for about four screens, then one begins to wish for a bit more variety.

A fun three minute break. Just remember to blink occasionally or your eyes will dry out.


For me this game is sort of like a painting by Basquiat or a film by Werner Herzog. I don't really enjoy the experience, but I appreciate the creator and what went into the piece.


It's not THAT different from generic breakout. But one thing I miss from the clones are powerups.


I'm afraid I don't see how it's redesigning it at all. All it does is change the speed and make it impossible to miss. If you ask me, it really is just a breakout clone, with a different style. And I would still think it was a fine game if I could play it like breakout, but I can't because they screwed with the speed. Maybe if the ball didn't slow down so close to the paddle, it would be fun for somebody who is good at geometry and could tell where it would bounce, but there's no time to react. So the way I see it, they ruined it. Sorry.



OMG I just hit level 10, 78280 points. Once it goes through the numbers 1 - 9, it then goes through the alphabet, starting with A.

Got to play level "A" for like 3 seconds before I ran out of time. :(

The appeal of the game lies entirely with the time factor--how quick your reflexes are, how few mistakes you can make, and how much control you can exert on the ball given how CRAZY FAST it goes.


good game and great retake on a classic that we all love. I do however find the game strangely irritating that you cant really "relax" while playing like you can with other "breakout style" games. you don't have time to plan out where you are going to hit and a lot of it seems to come down to chance.


There's isn't really much chance involved. Where the ball hits the paddle determines where it goes. As it's been pointed out it's all geometry. If you can estimate how to aim the ball to get it to go where you need it to, then you've got it made.


My best score so far is 74420. I had 4 bricks remaining to clear level 9! The sound design really improves the game and adds a soothing element to what is otherwise a very stressful experience since there's no respite from the constant frantic tempo except when you miss.

As a minor correction: it's not accurate that there are 2 speeds in the game ;) What's true is that there are 2 modes: A variable response time mode where the ball travels at a fixed velocity, and a fixed response time mode where the ball travels as fast as to needs to in order to come back in a fixed time period.



Wonderful description. Have the same feelings about Herzog films but actually I found this more accessible!

Happy Christmas



Addicting for me. I ended up focusing only on the area around the paddle, and only using my peripheral vision to see the awesome lines and stuff.
What would be a good idea is the implementation of a "bullet-time" power up (or something) for use in dire times.
By the way, my best score is 79030, and I got to level A (YEAH! The one after 9!)


I like the game.. although the review SHOULD mention that the sound effects are almost crucial. I tried the game with muted sound first and it was awful. I turned on the sound and amazingly enough it was MUCH much better.

I like the experience, but the visibility of the mouse pointer irks me immensely. In a game twitchy like this u don't need unnecessary distractions and mood-breakers like a pesky arrow...


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