Review: Hyperballoid HD (PS3)May 19th, 2010 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews
With a number of games with twists to the brick-breaking formula having appeared on PSN in the past year, it’s surprising to see that nothing more traditional has been released on PSN in the last three years. Hyperballoid HD is the new PS3 iteration of a PC line of Arkanoid clones from Alawar Entertainment, which offers about 100 new levels for just $4.99. While the game is cheap, it does come with some unfortunate issues that keep it from being a perfect purchase for a cheap price.
While Hyperballoid HD takes more after Arkanoid, the level design is really what sets it apart from the more bland levels that you tend to associate with the genre. The levels here are built more like set pieces with plenty of moving parts, much like many of Peggle’s levels. There are two separate sets of levels with one set featuring space backdrops and the other having a South American jungle kind of backdrop, though the space campaign is still a bit more visually-appealing as you work your way through the campaign. Though blocks can be knocked loose, they don’t really have gravity like Shatter, but they will move around when the ball hits them to give it an unpredictable trajectory.
The controls in Hyperballoid are as solid and responsive as the genre really requires to be playable. You can move the paddle with the d-pad for finer movement and the left analog stick for quicker movement, though they even offer Sixaxis control that is a decent alternative. The use of rumble gives each hit on your paddle a solid thud that gives it a more tactile feel than most of the Arkanoid clones on PSN and XBLA.
Hyperballoid goes a bit beyond the normal range of power-ups with nearly 40 power-ups to collect or avoid as you play through the levels. You’ll know which blocks will give up power-ups since they are usually glowing and there are even triggered explosions that will cause a downpour of power-ups you’ll hope to collect. There are the basic sets of powers you’d expect to find in a brick-breaking game with some interesting new power-ups that give the ball some gravity to pull nearby blocks into it or a cursor you can control that the ball will follow for a bit of time. Even if you’re not that good at finishing a level, the game will drop an instant finish power-up that lets you move to the next level rather than continue the battle of futility.
The biggest issue with Hyperballoid is the lack of replay value, as there are no high scores or leaderboards that could give you any reason to come back once you’ve beaten all of the levels. The lack of online leaderboards and high scores just makes this game feel oddly ancient in its feature set since these are some of the most basic features we’ve come to expect on PSN at this point. Without any additional modes or anything else that could give it more replay value, the cheaper price tag at least helps give it more of a chance compared to the other Arkanoid clones on PSN.
The visual style in Hyperballoid HD is an interesting mix between the beautiful, colorful space levels and the more Amazon jungle style of levels that features a more limited color palette and design. The bigger visual issue is the forced letterbox view for HD that prevents the game from filling up a 1080p display like you’d normally expect. It’s not much better in SD since you can’t read any text or tell what the power-ups are supposed to be.
Combined with the great use of rumble for each solid thud when the ball hits your paddle, the sound effects in Hyperballoid are well done to give the multiple types of bricks a nice sound whenever they’re hit or destroyed. The soundtrack is a decent style of techno that you’d kind of expect for this type of game, so it’s good that you can play your own music to hear something that may be more interesting to you.
At first, Hyperballoid HD offers a nice, traditional brick-breaking experience with a ton of levels, but issues like the lack of high scores and leaderboards keep it from being an easy recommendation for its cheap $4.99 price tag. If you’ve played the other games in its genre (Shatter, Peggle, and Magic Orbz) and want something new to play through, this will probably do the job. It just won’t be the type of game that you would probably continue playing once you’ve seen everything that it has to offer.