Radial 50 breaks from the brick-breaking tradition by offering circular gameplay. Rather than attempting to clear a field of bricks on the opposite side of the screen, you'll be controlling a paddle that circumnavigates the playfield in an effort to break through the bricks and reach the middle. In that middle is a diamond which, once collected, will advance you to the next stage.
Along the way there are some small tweaks in the gameplay like power-ups and well-protected diamonds, but they don't do a whole lot to add variety. What you get in the first stage of Radial 50 is pretty much what you'll get in the last. That's not to say the game isn't a lot of fun — just don't expect new things to come along and keep the game fresh.
There is a lot of fun to be had here despite the similar gameplay. Moving your paddle around the outside of the circle to keep the ball in play can be frantic and frenzied. You'll move the paddle by sliding your finger up and down on the touchpad as if you were controlling a dial. Pretty quickly you'll be sliding like a madman, as your health only allows for you to miss the ball 5 times before starting the whole game over. This is classic old-school game theory at its finest: if you can't hack it, you're going to have to start over and try again. And while the game is somewhat forgiving in that your health will regenerate, the level of challenge that comes from keeping that ball in the circle can create a maddening addiction.
Radial 50 offers up a number of nice touches that enhance the gameplay. A number of achievements are available for gamers who like to set targets for themselves, and these range from the manageable to the nigh-impossible. The achievements page also tells what percentage of players have been able to achieve each one, adding yet another level of gauntlet-throwing challenge to the game.
Once you've completed a game, you'll be given the opportunity to share your score with your friends via Facebook and Twitter. You'll also be able to check your score on a variety of leaderboards ranging from city to world. For a lot of gamers, titles like Radial 50 are going to be all about high score competition. It's nice to see that they factored that into its development.
Another thing that was nice to see was support for left-handed gamers. Being one myself, I've grown all too accustomed to the fact that this is a right-handed world which always leads to right-handed games. Radial 50 let's you select “left” from the options menu, which will put the controls on the left and the power-up notifications on the right. It's a little tweak, but it's well-appreciated. Outside of Nintendo, few companies ever think to cater to us lefties. That sort of all-inclusive thinking earns bonus points in my books.
For $1.99 Radial 50 offers up a fun diversion that put a new spin on an old favorite. While the levels offer little variety, there's enough in this package to help you pass the time without getting bored quickly. Definitely a game for fans of the genre to consider.