Kids of all ages love LEGOs… even those who refuse to admit they’ve grown up.

So it’s no surprise Large Animal Games, creator of the critically-acclaimed Saints & Sinners Bowling, has joined forces with the world-famous toy manufacturer to bring audiences LEGO: Bricktopia.

The best arcade-style block-basher we’ve laid eyes (or sweating palms) upon in a long time, the title isn’t just a clever fusion of branding and brilliant play mechanics. It’s also an instant classic in its own right.

Forget everything you think you know about the genre.

At passing glance, the setup’s the same as always. Controlling a paddle located at the bottom of the screen, you must clear playfields of bricks by batting a ball into them. Fail to return serve, and you’ll lose a life, with only a limited supply available.

Look closer though, and major revisions to the age-old formula are instantly apparent:

  • Clicking the left mouse button makes your paddle jump; holding it down two seconds, charge a super bump. Both cause balls to move faster. The more momentum balls gain, the greater the number of bricks they’ll shatter following collisions.

  • Level layouts, positioned atop glowing, neon-colored grids replete with transparent, round-edged bumpers, don’t just dance and move. They also sport oodles of personality. Watch for shifting walls, rotating blocks, raising/lowering platforms, and special bonuses that only appear on-screen for short periods. Ditto for little LEGO men, who’ll suddenly peek out from randomly-opening windows to offer special items.

  • Up to six shields can occupy the bottom of the screen, preventing balls from being lost. Once struck, a shield disappears permanently.

  • Each stage contains several LEGO pieces in addition to standard bricks. Catch falling LEGOs to increase your paddle’s height and reach or earn score multipliers. (Bonuses are awarded based on matching patterns or creating tall, wide and neatly-stacked rows). Right clicking removes paddle-mounted LEGOs from play, stores them for later use and – if at least three are removed – recharges one or more shields.

  • A whopping 20 power-ups are available. Guitars produce sonic waves that randomly shatter bricks. Paddle-mounted artic blast beams convert any block to ice when struck, making it destroyable in one hit. Beware “power-downs” however, which slow your paddle or shrink the ball.

  • Collectible items including extra lives, bricktonite (which destroys your paddle) and dolphins that turn your silver sphere into a beach ball add further charm.

  • A Bonus Builder mini-game appears every few levels. Here, you’ll drop stored LEGOs to fill in block-shaped silhouettes, thereby earning score bonuses and unlocking hidden levels. Power-ups and extra lives can also be gained by stacking blocks atop one another until they reach an appropriate height. But remember – your supply of LEGOs is limited and time tight.

Taken together, the sum total provides for a surprisingly strategic and fun outing. To wit, it’s never a case of simply sitting back and letting the ball bounce away.

Do you go for that multi-ball power-up at the risk of missing a return serve? Race towards the falling LEGO that’ll double your paddle’s size, or let it pass, knowing the firework-shooting bonus tumbling down the other side of the screen could come in handier? Fire away with a super bump or play it straight, recognizing it could take three times as long to clear the stage of debris?

These are the questions you’re constantly asking.

Flush with lively touches and brightly-painted hues (note the way light trails your ball), stages quickly dissolve into a beautiful blur of sound and color as well. Between catchy background jingles, moving parts, plummeting bonuses and shattering objects, there’s never a dull moment

Best of all, with 150 stages to explore, multiple bonus levels, two difficulty settings (casual and expert) and Brick Blitz, a faster-paced play variant unlocked only after completing the title, the excitement never stops.

Easily the most entertaining and visually captivating game of its type – even the main menu sports ricocheting balls and dancing characters – LEGO: Bricktopia is as simple to play as it is to love.

Large Animal Games deserves serious commendation for its efforts. Not that we expect it’ll be a problem, given the soon to be thousands of downloads by satisfied customers such as yourself.