Some gameplay styles never seem to get old, but it’s always interesting to see how developers can take a basic concept and add their own spin to it. A good example is Magic Orbz, which offers a new take on classics such as BrickBreaker and Arkanoid.
Like those classic games, the gameplay is quite simple at its core. Deflect a ball with your paddle towards objects on the screen to destroy them, without letting it get past you. After you’ve cleared enough items, you advance to the next level with a different configuration of things to destroy.
Instead of a normal “flat” field of play, everything is represented in a top-down 3D perspective. The game offers you four themed levels of play (with more to come), each theme having eight to ten stages within. There are also two bonus levels that are unlocked after accessing the developer’s Twitter and Facebook pages through a web-browser.
The pirate area has 3D sharks, islands, ships, cannons, chests – and of course, pirates! The shark area keeps with the islands and pirates theme, but then there’s also shaman and tiger levels. As I write this, an update for the game just came through with a new winter themed stage called Santa for the holiday season, with Eskimos, pine trees, igloos and the like. These varied objects are what you will be aiming at and trying to destroy before you can advance. No real explanation is given as to why you have to destroy them, you just do; and that’s fine by me.
As you play, various power-ups will occasionally be released from destroyed items and fall down towards the playfield, which you can collect by catching them with your paddle. Most are helpful, like expanding the paddle, turning the ball into a bomb, extra lives, slowing down the ball or even splitting the ball into three. However, some will make things a bit more challenging, like shrinking your paddle, giving the ball a spinning effect which makes it hard to hit, or have your ball do less damage when it strikes an object. Some of my favorite power-ups are ones that give you projectiles to fire at objects at the same time as deflecting the ball. Those power-ups come in the form form of a cannon, machine guns or a laser. These weapons have an option in the control screen to turn auto-fire on or off. I personally like this option disabled so I am firing when I want to, rather than constantly (you only have a limited amount of shots).
Power-ups are not the only things you will be collecting as you play. Five coins will randomly drop , which can be used in the store to buy power-ups manually. There is also a goal per stage to collect all five coins for extra points. To access the store at any time during the game, just simply press the pause button and you are given a list of all the power-ups available to help. Each power up costs differently, with some of the best ones costing a lot – so shop wisely.
Now to talk about the controls of the game. You have two options: you can either move your ball deflector (or “Bat”, as they call it in the game) with your finger on it, simply sliding it left and right; or you can use the left and right buttons found on the edges of the game screen. I honestly found the screen buttons way too touchy for my liking, and just used the simple finger swipe option instead. I did find the Bat having trouble at times trying to keep up with my finger and not reacting as quickly as I would have liked. There was a bit of lag at times when the screen action got very busy and that caused me to miss the ball a few times, but with the number of lives you can achieve at times, I just shrugged it off. (NB: I reviewed this game on an original iPad – newer models might not experience this issue as much).
The overall look of the game is bright, colorful, and very entertaining. Menus are nicely laid out and easy to navigate. The animation of destroying objects on screen is very rewarding as they topple, crumble and then sink into the ground. It is slightly disturbing at times, though, when you see things like knocking the head off a shark and seeing the body still remain upright in the shark-themed levels.
The game’s music is very enjoyable, especially the menu music which I personally found soothing. The music during gameplay is a good match too, with bouncy fun tunes that don’t get boring or annoying. Sound effects don’t disappoint either. Each themed stage has its own set of fitting effects that suit the environment well. The sounds you produce from weapons and power ups you acquire sound appropriate too.
For those who enjoy old school gameplay with some fun new twists and a cheerful demeanor, I think Magic Orbz will be right up your alley. Some control issues, a bit of laggy input and being a bit too easy for my tastes keeps the title from getting a higher score; but Magic Orbz is still a fun game that will keep you entertained for a while without breaking the bank.