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January 4, 2010
Hyperballoid HD - PS3 Review
Release Launch Price Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
10/12/2009$AUTBAAlawar EntertainmentAlawar Entertainment1-4None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Hyperballoid HD on the PS3.
Hyperballoid HD arrived on my PS3 with little or no fanfare, other than a heads-up from Futuregamez guru/editor/boss Dave. Games that arrive like this often have the upper hand on other, more anticipated titles, because you judge them entirely on merit rather than any pre-conceived ideas you might have developed either consciously or sub-consciously. Can Hyperballoid HD take advantage of this situation, or does it fall flat?

There's no story to Hyperballoid HD, there's just two worlds, each with fifty levels for you and your paddle to block-bust your way through. Hyperballoid is made very much in the image of Arkanoid - you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen with the objective of bouncing your ball into all of the blocks above you, destroying them as you go. Your paddle can move at a variety of speeds, from very slow (using the d-pad), to speedy (using the analog stick), to hyperdrive (holding R1 or L1 with the analog stick) and finally to ludicrous speed (with a nod to Spaceballs, by holding both R1 and L1 with the analog stick). Though the names given here are not used in-game you get the idea.

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Note the paddle at the bottom in Hyperballoid HD.
Within the myriad of aesthetically-pleasing blocks that you must destroy above you, there are shiny blocks that contain power-ups or gems. The gems are of more value as collecting three of them with gift you a free life, though it is the power-ups that provide the entertainment. In all there are over thirty power-ups (although some are really power-neutrals or even worse, power-downs) that will aid you in your block-busting, including cannon fire, flamethrowers, free-lives, speed-ups, multi-balls (which break your one ball into three or more balls for quicker destruction), an AI-controlled paddle that helps keep your ball afloat for a short time, or even a floor that stops your ball from falling past your paddle altogether. In terms of power-downs there is the dreaded "slow-down" which slows down your ball (who'd have thunk it?), there's one that makes your paddle transparent until you lose a life and others that cause your ball to fly off in a strange and unpredictable pattern.

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Playing in the jungle setting.
If all of that sounds simple so far, it should. Hyperballoid HD has apparently been developed for the casual gamer to enjoy, and with simple controls, easy-going gameplay and not too taxing difficulty, it has many of the key attributes required to please this audience. And with a relatively cheap price tag, exactly one-hundred levels and trophy-support, gamers will also get value for money - if Hyperballoid HD is their thing that is.

There are a few issues with Hyperballoid, which stop it from becoming a must-have. First off there's the difficulty, or lack thereof. Your paddle with its four speeds can cover pretty close to the entire floor in an instant, and more often than not the only time you lose a life is from inattention and frankly, you will become inattentive at times because the ball itself moves so slowly. This becomes more apparent as levels progress and there are fewer and fewer blocks to hit. Some of the blocks are very small making them tricky targets, especially with the imprecision of your paddle. It's not unheard of for the ball to spend over forty seconds up in the blocks, before coming back down to your paddle. Sometimes this is due to the number of blocks it is destroying, but at other times it can simply be that the ball is flying horizontally, taking an age to hit the ceiling or floor.

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Not the most exciting screenshot.
Another issue I found with the game is that there's a distinct lack of strategy required; the only time you're going to destroy a lot of blocks is when you get yourself a powerful power-up, and this lack of planning or reward for effort is another reason the fun wanes a bit quicker than you'd like. And finally, the onscreen text is remarkably small – even up close to your TV it can be tough to read. This is only an issue if you turn on the hints (which is hardly necessary), but it's amazing that with so much free space on the screen the developers couldn't find a readable font to use.

The game looks good enough, though it's hard to pinpoint any particular HD-worthy moment. The backgrounds are static and feature pictures of space (for the Planet World campaign), or ruins (for the Ancient World campaign). The blocks are well-defined and occasionally sparkle prettily. Occasionally you'll come across blocks that you can interact with, and by hitting them on a particular side you can send them into otherwise unbreakable blocks to, well, break them. This interactivity is never taken to any great length however. The level design can be interesting, but with one-hundred levels all up and only two different styles employed, they soon start to run-together.

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Another PS3 Hyperballoid HD screenshot.
The music is largely unremarkable; there's nothing here that assaults your senses but at the same time you're unlikely to find yourself humming tunes from the game once it has been turned off. The official game-site describes the music as "a bass-heavy techno soundtrack", which is an accurate description, even if it does make it sound a bit more interesting than the reality. In fairness the game is a lot less entertaining with the music turned off, so on that score one must say the music does a good job of setting the mood for block-destruction.

Overall Hyperballoid HD is a decent game, which fails to push any boundaries. Taken in the way it is intended, that is as a game for casual fans, it is largely successful - it's cheap, has plenty of content and is easy to pick up and play. However the lack of challenge in the game, combined with the slow pace and the absence of strategy in your destruction makes the game feel repetitive all too quickly. Still, it's worth checking out if block-busting is your cup of tea, or if you're looking for a very easy-going way to spend a few hours in front of your PS3.

Review By: Mike Allison

Order your copy through the PS3's Playstation Store.
GRAPHICSCrisp and clear, though this is not a game that shows off HD graphics to full effect.
SOUNDCreates decent block-destroying background noise. You’ll forget it the moment the PS3 is turned off though.
GAMEPLAYVery easy to pick up and play, but there’s a distinct lack of challenge. The slow pace of the ball is a turn-off too.
VALUEPlenty of bang for your buck if block-busting floats your boat. 100-levels as well as trophy-support should keep you busy for a whiley.
OVERALLHyperballoid HD is a game well-suited to very casual gamers. There’s limited challenge and the slow pace can make you feel like you’re wasting time, but if you enjoy this type of game you’ll get your money’s worth.

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