There’s just something about a brick breaking game that takes you back – some of us can even remember fondly playing on Ataris, and nearly every console since. Hitting the right angles to send the ball sailing into those last few bricks is relaxing and fun….but there isn’t much more to it than that. You hit the ball with a paddle in the hopes of smashing all the bricks, and that’s about it. Barring cool backgrounds or paddle gimmicks, one brick breaking game is pretty much like the next, and there’s little engagement beyond the mindless fun of finishing the puzzle. Until now.
The idea of mixing a brick breaker with an RPG has honestly never even occurred to me, and if it had, I would probably dismissed it as an idea that really wouldn’t work. But work it does, and it makes for a great game that really adds an element of involvement that is missing in many puzzle games. The game begins in an 8 bit town that looks like it could have been pulled from any of your favorite childhood rpgs. The town has been destroyed, and it’s up to you to restore it to its former glory by earning enough cash to get the townspeople back on their feet.
You work your way around a map of worlds, each containing twelve challenging brick breaking levels, and the obligatory boss fight to round out the world. Some of the bricks drop coins and jewels, and by collecting these you can earn enough cash to help the townspeople rebuild. You can visit the town between worlds, helping everyone from shop owners to dogs. In addition to the cash, bricks drop things like extra lives and the occasional cursed blob, as well as bottles of magic. The magic can be used to shoot out balls of flame that are invaluable when you just can’t get the ball to a brick, or in those inevitable boss battles.
In standard brick breaker fashion, the levels in each Wizorb world are increasingly challenging and convoluted. You’ll need to work ball around not just the bricks, but obstacles like unbreakable walls, skulls, and chests that can only be opened by a hit to the top. One of the more challenging element for me personally were the color changing jewels. Up to four jewels are placed in some of the levels, and you need to change them all to the same color at the same time. The accidental bounces that changed my green to blue when I *almost* had it made me want to throw my psp….but in a good way.
No true rpg is complete without shops and a chance to purchase some killer upgrades, and Wizorb is no different. Some – not all – of the levels contain locked doors that can only be accessed with the perfect shot, and a key. The keys can be collected from treasure chests, or as rewards from villagers. The locked doors contain bonus levels full of powerups to collect, or shops where you can spend your collected cash on one time upgrades like three balls, double power, magnets, and even extra lives. Of course, whatever you spend there can’t be used to help the poor villagers, so you’ll want to manage your cash wisely.
Wizorb is presented in true retro style, with cool pixelated graphics and music that could come from any number of retro rpgs. And like those great games of old, Wizorb doesn’t mess around when it comes to dying. If you run out of lives, you are labeled a failure and asked if you want to use a continue, which will start you at the beginning of the level you were on. Use up all your continues, and you’ll have to restart the world, which is absolutely brutal in later worlds. This adds an element of challenge to a genre that is generally considered a casual one.
Wizorb takes a tried and true puzzle game and turns it on its head by adding addictive rpg elements that really pull you into the game. With challenging gameplay and cool retro graphics, Wizorb is a game that it truly tough to put down.