Those who grew up dumping quarters into arcade games in the early ’80s may smile upon launching Reaxxion (pronounced “reaction”), a new downloadable diversion based on the classic brick-breaking game-play found in titles such as Breakout or Arkanoid.
You know the drill: the goal is to move a paddle right or left at the bottom of the screen, in order to keep a bouncing ball from touching the ground. To clear each screen, you must break all the colored bricks laid out in a specific pattern.
Every so often gamers will unlock power-ups that help you accomplish this task faster, such as the Fire Ball bonus that shoots fire out of the main ball to destroy surrounding bricks, or a Force Field that temporarily prevents the ball from touching the bottom of the screen (should you not be able to get under it in time).
Reaxxion, however, introduces a number of new twists to this tried-and-true game-play.
For one, by pressing down on the right-mouse button when the ball touches the paddle, you are sucking in the liquid metal-like ball, causing your paddle to grow in size. On the other hand, you can left-click the mouse to send a ball up towards the bricks (or create numerous balls), though this will cause your paddle to grow smaller, making it more difficult to stop the balls from hitting the ground. Plus, the longer you hold the left-mouse button, the bigger the ball will become; while this means it can do more damage than a smaller ball, it moves much faster, making it more difficult to control.
When destroyed, some bricks will drip metal, which you can also collect with your paddle to grow bigger. If it gets too big, though, the paddle will become “unstable,” causing an alarm to sound before shrinking down in size.
Another unique feature is the use of glass tubes that can store your balls for you if you aim it properly towards its mouth. Not unlike pinball games, once you lock in three balls you’re rewarded with a multi-ball bonus. In fact, your three small silver balls become five larger golden balls, which do more damage and score twice as many points as the steel balls. The bricks, by the way, may be in the shape of electric guitars, whales on the water, or other fun animated objects.
“Challenge” levels take place after every 10 levels, which include a unique “boss” you must hit with balls and nudge it in a direction to capture it (which, in turn, unlocks the next 10 levels). You cannot absorb or generate balls in these special levels. Also, five secret spheres are available per level, and if you break 25 of these in total you unlock secret Challenge levels to extend the game-play and offer more opportunity to gain extra points. In secret Challenge levels, you have 60 seconds to break as many bricks as possible; break more than 90 percent of all bricks to gain an extra life.
Along with the aforementioned Fire Ball and Force Field, Reaxxion offers other power-ups, including Magneto Ball (all other balls on the screen follow the main one), Hot Shot (the paddle metal boils, allowing you to shoot bullets onto the screen) and Spike Ball (which turns the ball into a flying bomb; use the left-mouse button to activate it). A power-up is initiated when a ball enters a tube on the left-hand side of the screen.
Reaxxion will prove to be a lot of fun for those with fond memories of these kinds of brick-breaking game, but even with the many power-ups and secret levels to unlock, it’s too bad this game only offers one mode. The repetitive and annoying music probably doesn’t help either. It would have been great to be able to import your own MP3s, but alas, this isn’t the case.
Despite its few shortcomings, Reaxxion is a fun, colorful and accessible game for players of all ages – even if you don’t remember the original break-breaking arcade hits from yesteryear.