Breakout was Tetris’s inbred second cousin. Instead of using your intelligence to manipulate falling pieces into a sane and organized line, you had to bounce a ball up towards the ceiling to dislodge some discolored bricks. Tetris had real world application. It taught creative problem solving for bricklayers. Breakout taught you to try and renovate your house with a tennis ball. Regardless of which 8-bit home improvement instruction manual you played in your youth, subsequent games emulated the formula but rarely improved upon it. Magic Orbz is the distant progeny of Breakout, but does it smash the floor out from under silly family tradition or build up something new from the ground up?
Magic Orbz began life on platforms that didn’t have a touchscreen, but it has finally come home to the iOS. A touchscreen is the natural environment for a block breaking game and Magic Orbz has been successfully released back into the wild. You have two choices for controlling your bat. You can tap on each side of the screen to sling it side to side or simply grab it with a fingertip to move it where you want. The latter is the most accurate, but if you’re playing on an iPhone, you may end up covering the whole thing and misjudging your ball to bat placement. Sadly it won’t end up as a YouTube blooper, just the loss of one of your hearts.
Magic Orbz is not your average block breaking game. Sure there’s a bat, a ball, and things to break, but that is where the similarities end. Magic Orbz is a 3D physics block breaking bonanza. Instead of the usual 2D pinball table style view, you’re treated to a fully 3D environment with all sorts of delicate things for you to smash with a well placed ball. The objects begging for destruction are stacked tall and are just waiting to have their foundations knocked out from under them. From island huts, palm trees, and pirates to sharks, cannons, and skeletons, Magic Orbz has a plethora of flora and fauna for you to smash a ball into.
Like all great block breaking games, there are power-ups galore. The game has everything from machine guns, cannons, and lasers to meteor showers, earthquakes, and wild balls that whip all over the level in defiance of the laws of physics. On the opposite side, there are also detrimental items that only hinder your ability to deflect balls back towards those scurvy skeletal pirates.
Graphics aren’t usually a huge concern for a game such as this, but the developers of Magic Orbz have gone above and beyond to make this game look pretty damn good. The standard fare for a Breakout style game is few rectangles and a circle to serve as the ball. Now you have a crossbow-like bat to use as a deflector and an insane amount of destructible things. You have the chance to blast a soccer ball through a ship full of pirates or knock out a half dozen circling sharks. You can break your way through whole islands full of huts, palm trees, and even some tiki heads.
Magic Orbz is a really fun game that shies away from block breaking conventions in favor of something new and unique. It’s a game that expounds on the successes of the past but forges a new path by enhancing a tried and true gameplay tradition. For that, it is well worth playing. It is also fun to watch a group of pirate skeletons implode into a sinking ship that you nailed with a soccer ball.