Take a classic arcade game, marry it with a world-renowned toy brand and then toss in ton of new features and you’ll end up with LEGO: Bricktopia.
Based on the familiar Breakout or Arkanoid games from the early ’80s, players control a paddle that moves horizontally along the bottom of the screen. Your goal is to keep a bouncing ball from touching the bottom as it breaks apart multi-colored bricks above; removing all the bricks from the screen lets you advance to the next level.
Chances are you have fond memories playing these kinds of retro games – but be prepared to enjoy a 21st version that folds in a handful of fun new features.
As the name suggests, LEGO: Bricktopia first and foremost introduces a Lego theme to the game-play and visual style. With the former, you can collect falling Lego pieces, which stack up on the paddle. Points are awarded for creating a wide stack, a tall stack or one that is neatly arranged one on top of another. After three or more Lego pieces are stacked, you can right-mouse click to remove them, and you’re rewarded with a shield at the bottom of the screen that prevents the ball from falling. After one or two bounces, however, the shield disappears.
Another Lego-themed feature takes place every three levels. Called the Bonus Builder, the game lets you build your own paddle shape with falling Lego pieces; a silhouette of the paddle shape will be seen on the screen and you must catch each falling piece inside in the right spot to gain bonus points and unlock special levels.
The Lego theme also plays a part in the game’s look — from the animated and colorful backdrop made up of little squares to the collectable Lego pieces to the little Lego man that comes up to introduce a power-up onto the screen. Interestingly, each level not only offers a new brick layout, which animates in a specific pattern, but also the surrounding edges of the screen may also have a unique shape that’ll affect the direction of the ball, such as curved walls.
The quirky music, composed by Byron Estep, musical director for the Blue Man Group, nicely fits with the Lego-inspired visuals.
LEGO: Bricktopia offers dozens of fun power-ups to catch with your paddle, including a few classics: multi-ball, slow ball, wide paddle, big ball and a magnet power-up that makes the ball stick to your paddle until you choose where and when to release it. More unique offerings include an arctic power-up to turn all touching pieces to breakable ice, another one that blows up a part of the screen and others that turn the ball into little guitars and beach balls.
Some power-ups you’ll want to avoid, such as one that makes the ball smaller or faster, or the “bricktonite” objects that destroys your Lego pile when caught (or your entire paddle if you have no stacked pieces).
While found in a few recent games of this kind, LEGO: Bricktopia also allows you to give the paddle a little jump by clicking the left mouse-button just before it’s touched by the ball. This gives the ball a good whack towards the bricks. To really give it a wallop, you can also hold down the left-mouse button for a few seconds to charge up the paddle before connecting with the ball.
And now is where I’ll sound like infomercial guru Ron Popeil: But wait, there’s more! Along with the lengthy main mode, which offers an impressive 150 levels, players can also choose a quick game of a level of their choice (providing they’ve unlocked it in the main game) and two bonus game modes to unlock: one that lets you play 15 all-new levels and another (called Blitz) with 150 fast-paced levels.
LEGO: Bricktopia is both a blast from the past and a promising look at where this familiar arcade genre can go with new ideas and fresh graphics. Be sure to download the free demo to see how it “stacks” up against the rest.