Wizorb is great new take on brick-breaking, but don’t let the screens fool you — there’s nary an RPG element to be had
I went into Wizorb thinking that is was part Arkanoid and part old-school RPG. I’m not sure where I got that idea, but going by the screenshots of the game, it’s a fairly obvious assumption to make. I was really curious to see how they could’ve honestly mashed those two totally different games together into something cohesive.
Sadly, looks can be deceiving. While the game may have the look and feel of an old NES era RPG, that’s really where the similarities end. The actual game itself is really straight Arkanoid with some nice twists, and a tiny bit of walking around town and talking to people sprinkled over top. No quests, no parties, no levelling up or inventory or what have you. Much to my surprise, Wizorb has none of the RPG trappings.
As I slowly came to this realization while playing Wizorb, I got a little sad. A little upset. It was cute and fun so I played for a bit, figuring the novelty of the old-school graphics would wear thin soon. Then I kept playing …and playing …and playing.
Two hours later I came up for air. Sure Wizorb is just moving a paddle that’s knocking a ball around, not all that different from the games that first hit our TV’s 35+ years ago. But they add in just enough extra to make it a pretty enthralling experience, and it doesn’t hurt that they took the old-school thing whole hog and it shows in every aspect of the game. Animations, color palettes, music – the works. It’s a supremely well put together package.
So what makes a paddle and ball game fun in 2012? For one, in addition to that standard gameplay element of guiding your paddle back and forth to keep the orb in play and destroying targets, they add a nice magic mechanic to the game. So while you’re knocking the ball around you can also rattle off a few fireballs or steer the ball with a gust of wind after you hit it. This additional level of control greatly helps to keep frustration from setting in when trying to line up breaking those last one or two blocks. The magic is then recharged by grabbing power-ups or spending money gathered from destroying blocks.
The other great element is the wide variety of playfields they throw you up against. This isn’t the old style of just a few rows of bricks along the top that you need to destroy. Blocks are different sizes and strengths, and placed all over the field. Sometimes there are enemies roving around, or portals you can go through. Even blocks you can’t break. Each level is totally different and serves to keep the action fresh.
And while it’s not really an RPG, Wizorb still draws some inspiration from that genre when fleshing out the game. You’ll move to differently themed areas in an overworld map, moving through abandoned towns to forests to caverns and the like, all in an effort to help the people of the main town to rebuild after getting themselves caught in the path of an evil baddie.
You’ll go to different areas, work through the various playfields gathering cash and beating each realms bosses, and then bring that cash back and help the town rebuild. Once you make some progress you’ll have access to buy some of the in-game power ups like triple-balls, extra magic or additional lives. But it’s all very basic.
My only complaint about Wizorb is that there wasn’t much of an RPG influence outside of the game’s look. But since that complaint stems my own preconception coming into the game, I really can’t fault the developer too much for that. While it’s not what I expected it to be, I really did love Wizorb and plan on playing it for quite some time. Plus, it’s just fun to say Wizorb.