Bold, Beautiful, Bouncy
Twin Breaker, made by Lillymo Games, is a shot of nostalgia right into the veins for those of us who grew up playing classic brick-breaker games. Though some may scratch their heads at what exactly a “brick-breaker” is, we are all familiar with a little game called Pong. Yes, a-ha! Thanks to Lillymo Games for sending us a review copy of the game. I have spent a little over a week with the game, have around 67% of the trophies (at the time of this write-up), and, well, let’s talk about it.
Brick-breaker games are not normally known for their stories. Well, most brick-breakers do not normally come with a story. Yet, Colin Moriarty of Colin’s Last Stand (CLS) has written one up and, to be honest, it’s an intriguing one. In the year 2311, many planets are colonized and life is sustainable on other planets. However, back on Earth, European and Asian countries warred against one another while the United States remained out of the conflict. During this conflict, the US bolstered it’s economy and became a symbol of structure and fortitude. Once peace was established again, the US looked to the stars in search of new ground which led to NASA building Generation Ships. These ships would be sent on 5-year intervals, stocked with a massive crew, whose sole purpose was to travel to different star systems to search for planets ripe for colonization. Due to the long journey, the ships are aptly named because it would require several generations in order to reach these star systems.
A century goes by as each ship slowly yet methodically stopped reporting back due to the long-distance. Until one day, a ship appears, beams a huge load of information, and disappears. This information reveals the location of a wormhole, pushing NASA to make small, one-man crafts to send through and find out what is going on. The two ships, Greetings and Salutations, are sent, piloted by Colin and Chris. Armed with the Bouncer, the two go through the wormhole to retrieve answers.
As you play through the game, you’ll encounter aliens and learn more about what happened with the Generation Ships. I honestly found the premise highly intriguing. If you’ve listened to any of Colin’s online work, you’ll be familiar with his fascination for space and it’s lent itself well here. The banter between Colin and Chris, at times, is quite hilarious and holds your attention.
Twin Breaker, at first glance, may look like a standard brick-breaker from gaming days of old. But don’t let the retro look fool you. Each level will have you using the Bouncer (ball) and controlling both ships (bumpers) with twin sticks on the controller to accomplish the simple goal of breaking all the bricks on the screen in the allotted time. Accomplish that task and you’ll progress to the next level, after receiving a rank based on your score. As you break bricks, they’ll drop different pick-ups that can change up the gameplay for either better or worse. Some pick-ups will turn the ball into a heavy, indestructible wrecking ball or a fiery-quick orb. Others will grow or shrink the bouncers, extend your health, and even put up a shield to avoid the ball being knocked out of bounds. I personally loved the variety of pick-ups and felt they help distinguish each play through of a level.
When I initially started playing Twin Breaker, I was worried that it would get redundant. This was around the time I reached level 10 and encountered my first boss fight, which introduced some new mechanics that divided my attention between both the bouncer and the boss’ attacks. When level 11 started, I was surprised to see that the two ships were no longer on the bottom of the screen but on opposing sides of the screen, a la Pong. With a grin on my face, I kept playing. Level 21 changes things up even more, including the difficulty. I don’t want to ruin the surprise because it’s a great “what the heck” moment when you see it for yourself. That being said, this was the point where I really struggled with Twin Breaker and became increasingly frustrated. I questioned if I even was seasoned as a gamer. Across Twin Breaker’s 40 levels, I had wished that levels 21-30 would have done something a little different to help bridge the jump in difficulty. Other more experienced gamers will probably do better than I did but I found myself struggling to achieve a rank higher than C. But I didn’t let that stop me from reaching the end of the game.
Twin Breaker also boasts a fantastic line-up of other game modes such as Marathon, Pong, Random, Shooter, Catcher, and Boss Rush; all of which are fairly self-explanatory. Shooter mode enables the Shooter pick-up and plays more like Galaga, which is a fun change of pace to experience when you’re frustrated with the harder levels in the main game. Catcher sees you collecting coins while avoiding alien bugs. All are great distractions from the main game and I thoroughly enjoyed playing them. Though, Shooter, Random, and Catcher are my stand-out favorites.
As you play through Twin Breaker and achieve S Rank on levels, you’ll unlock collectibles. These collectibles are housed in the Trophy Room and serve as a means to flesh out the story more. These help flesh out the back-story of the game and Colin did a great job in fleshing out the world the game takes place in. Also housed in the Trophy Room is a stat tracker so you can see details like how many pick-ups you missed, how many times you maxed out your health, how many S-Ranks you have; just to name a few.
Twin Breaker has a variety of coins to pick up during the levels that serve to boost your score. I had hoped that they could have been used in-game to purchase extra unlocks such as maybe a new perk, invincibility, shields always on, multi-ball always on, etc. I think something like that could have added a little more to the overall gameplay experience on-top of the challenge of getting S-Ranks for collectibles.
Twin Breaker also features a New Game + to continue pulling you in for more. It’s a great incentive to play through the levels again to earn the new + ranks. My only issue with NG+ is that it does not seem to distinguish itself from the regular levels thus making it difficult to track my progress in NG+. It would have been nice to perhaps have the NG+ levels in a separate list; something to distinguish the two for better tracking.
Twin Breaker’s music took me right back to a simpler time: to my living room and playing games with my parents. Throughout the levels, the music sets the tone, especially as the timer draws closer to 0 and fills you with anxiety. The visuals are reminiscent of classic retro games, as you can see for yourself in the screenshots in this article. The menu music, especially, has a certain sci-fi feel to it that draws you in yet has a certain mystery to it.
There were many times I wanted to break the twin-sticks on my controller playing Twin Breaker. But it’s those moments of overcoming the challenge before you, that make it all worth it. I appreciate the work that Lillymo Games and Colin Moriarty put into this game. Twin Breaker is a breath of fresh air amidst the plethora of games that are all about shooting and looting. Twin Breaker will engage the mind and the reflexes in a way that harkens back to the old days of cheering friends on in the arcade. While I currently do not have the Platinum Trophy for the game at the time of this writing, it is one I will be obtaining.
Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure gets our Platinum Seal of Approval.