Long ago, shrouded in the mists of time, there was an arcade game called Breakout. This game was so popular that it spawned a long line of imitators, the latest of which is ASL's Impact.
Following in the normal Breakout gameplay, the player faces 90 screens to be conquered by demolition. 80 are preset, while the remainder are user definable, allowing the player to create screens of his own design.
The majority of bricks only need a single hit to destroy them; others need several; some are indestructible, and to make the situation even more confused, some screens even contain invisible bricks.
Wandering aimlessly around each screen are small aliens, which are destroyed on contact with the bat or ball. Although these aren't harmful themselves, they occasionally release small white bombs which incapacitate the bat momentarily on contact, enabling the ball to escape off-screen and losing the player a life.
When hit, some bricks release yellow tokens which can be used to purchase one of nine pieces of equipment to aid the player in his task. These include slowdown, to reduce the speed of the ball, a torch to light up invisible bricks and lasers for wholesale destruction. Nine icons lie down the right-hand side of the screen, each corresponding to the available items. A black square highlights the currently affordable item and as tokens are gathered the square advances accordingly. If any tokens remain unused at the end of the level, they are converted into an end-of-level bonus.
Five lives are provided at the start, with an extra bat being earned every 50,000 points. On some screens a bonus is attained by destroying in sequence, bricks marked with the letters BONUS. However, hitting them in any other order doesn't gain the player a bean.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: little imagination shown
Sound: inexcusably poor
Options: ten user-definable screens
'The attraction and addiction of simplistic graphics and elementary gameplay has been no more evident on computers than in the implementation of Breakout on the Spectrum. It's very easy to criticize games of this type (especially Impact) for their uninventive use of the display area and meagre tunes created in what is essentially an easy game to program. You can't deny their addictiveness but, nevertheless, I am appalled to see ASL charging the extortionate (there's no other word for it) price of ten pounds for such a simple game. So you get a designer- but what use is that if you have very few options in the game anyway! Batty and Arkanoid still tussle for the top of the block-bashers purely for their inventiveness and expansion of a very old and lucid concept.'
'As with most Breakout-type games, the first thing that goes through your mind is, 'Does this game offer anything new to the old tried and tested formula?'. Well, although Impact is a graphically competent game, with some nicety drawn screens and a zippy little ball springing about, there sadly isn't anything new or exciting enough to set it apart from the crowd of other variants. Saying that, I did enjoy playing the game for quite a while, but I feel that as there are so many games of the same type around, you may already have one better than this.'
'Impact, the publicity claims, is all set to hit your screens with a bang... a whimper would be more appropriate. The presentation and gameplay are polished but not outstanding; the graphics are colourful and the sound is adequate. Gameplay is addictive (isn't it always) and If you get bored of trying to master 80 screens there's always the construction set. The idea of catching credits to buy a limited variety of bonus features is new but doesn't really add much interest to the game. There are no unexpected transformations of bat and ball as you flit boldly across the bottom of the screen collecting bonuses. More annoying is the disintegration of the bat before it becomes clear that the ball isn't going to hit it: the computer is always just ahead of the graphics. If you're addicted to this sort of game then the construction set makes it a worthwhile addition to your collection. For dabblers in the genre, though, it doesn't offer anything special enough to rate as an investment.'
Squeezing blood from a stone: that's what I call it! Audiogenic is really milking dry an already over-used game style with impact. Yes, it's Breakout time again.
Quite a few software houses have taken a profit conscious dip into the waves created by my fave game of '87 - Arkanoid. Some have been more successful than others, but so far nothing I have seen has even come close to the outstanding addictiveness and playability of the big A (except Revenge Of Doh, the Arkanoid follow up). I'm afraid Impact joins this ever growing list of also-rans.
Don't get me wrong, Impact is endowed with more than its fair share of addictivity alright. I find there's something strangely compelling about whacking a tiny ball into a wall of bricks. Trouble is the game feels, and looks extremely bland, with a basic style that echos the very first Breakout games more than anything else. The programmers have made little attempt to tart up the graphics or provide all those small 'extras' that makes Arkanoid II such fun to play (and watch).
Impact was the game that wowed them on the Atari (loads a money) ST, with stunning playability and above average visual and sound FX. The Speccy version looks very rough by comparison, which is surprising because it should have been easy to smarten up the program a wee bit. After the umpteenth screen of blocky, uninteresting brick walls, my attention began to wander off and do something slightly more interesting. A little more thought to appearances would have given the program a display to be proud of.
Hey, enough negative vibes. There are a couple of points that help to make Impact a better buy than your average Arkanoid clone. The special token collect and weapon selection feature is a skillo idea. Just pick up enough floating tokens to light up the weapon or feature of your choice, press select and away we go!
The second neat innovation is an easy to use screen designer. 80 screens are already built into the program but the designer gives you the opportunity to create a further 48. Enough there for anyone I would have thought.
Impact could have been amazing with a little more effort on the programming side. What we are left with though is an entertaining package that provides a couple of clever variations on the Arkanoid theme, but not much else.
|Value For Money||8/10|
Well, I've been here before. About twelve times in the past few years in fact. It's Breakout all over again, or Arkanoid, or Krackout or Revenge of Doh if you can't remember that far back. You guide a little bat which moves smoothly along the bottom of the screen, bouncing a little white ball around the screen, demolishing coloured blocks and collecting falling wotsits which give you added powers. The selection business works in the same way as Slapfight. As you collect each wotsit, the next icon is illuminated down the right hand side, so it's a toss-up between whether you choose to enlarge your bat, light-up invisible blocks that break the balls into three etc. All the usual fare.
An interesting add-on is the fact that you can design your own layout of screens. There are eighty already in there, so you can play it for ages without getting bored. It's a shame that you'll have played all the other versions from other companies at other (cheaper) prices first though.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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