Super Breakout - The Atari Times
An improvement over Breakout, but is it really "super"?
by Darryl BrundageMarch 23, 2009
As the saying goes, you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, especially when it came to Super Breakout, having a silly box and label cover of an astronaut facing a wall of colors in outer space.
C'mon, this is BREAKOUT, not something futuristic, with the technology to push your 2600 to the limit or anything! (And I won't go into the silly scenario of the astronaut in his space shuttle in the instructions' intro either [you're welcome!].) I guess Atari was hoping for something like this back in the day at the local toy store:
Dad: For bringing home a good report card, you can get two Atari games!
Son: Great, thanks!
Dad (showing son the Super Breakout box): You want this one?
Son: Yeah! Looks cool!
Dad (picking up something else): How about this sports game?
Son (barely glancing at cover after seeing the SB box): I'll bet that one sucks.
Yep, bet Atari was hoping for "laser envy", like the later Toy Story movie would delve into, in regards to Woody vs. Buzz Lightyear...but so much for speculation, lets see what actually comprised this cartridge, shall we?
BREAKOUT - Well, this isn't much, it's just the regular Breakout, although if I recall correctly (which I might not, but I'm being too lazy to look it up), I think on the original Breakout cartridge, if you cleared three screens, the game didn't advance any more. With a press of the paddle button, a ball comes towards your paddle, you hit it back up to the wall to clear it, and repeat for as long as you can; you know how this game works. Well, here it'll go on for as long as you don't lose all five of your balls (no sex or golf jokes here please), so it's an improvement over the original, or just gearing us up for more game variations. Speaking of which, lets get to them!
CAVITY - Something your dentist wouldn't be happy with, but in this one, there's two "cavities" in the brick wall, each containing one ball. Knock out enough bricks, not only can you release one (or both) ball(s), but you'll score bonus points that way too. You also get two paddles in this one, stacked on top of the other. Here's where you need very good coordination, and not of the zero gravity kind that the silly cover and story implies (which wasn't needed!), either (which I doubt would help).
PROGRESSIVE - This looks like a cool, harmless playfield, with several stacks of brick walls, but once you start playing, the brick walls start coming down towards the bottom of the screen. Uh oh! Kind of if Space Invaders meets Breakout...
Now, Super Breakout was also an arcade game, having the above three choices of games to play, all in one! HOWEVER...this cartridge has even more to choose from! Also included are variations of...
DOUBLE - Like with Cavity, you get two balls and two paddles. Simple enough...
CHILDREN - Even simpler, this is an easier version of Breakout (or maybe this should be billed the EASY version, for those who stink at Breakout).
There's also a few additional tidbits included, like choosing the sounds for your game (keep pressing reset until you like what you hear), your paddles will shrink and/or the ball will speed up in most games once the ball gets to the top part of the screen, and most variations have two player options as well.
Even though this wasn't exactly one of the "powerhouse" games of the 2600, the graphics still weren't much back then; sure, the game's colorful, but fancy graphics? Nope, not at all, no detail to the blocks, and the "ball" is a square (yet it enjoyed a good career at Atari, also being employed as the "ball" in Video Pinball and other games). I'm not rating the control because it's been ages since I played it back when it was new and don't recall how the control was; sure, I still have paddles nowadays that work, but they're a little jittery. I'd guess control's at 80-85% though (anyone who wants to leave a comment on this point that have decent controllers, feel free). Even though there's many different sounds to choose from, I don't really think they're that great either, their score is mostly due to the variety...but I really like this game though, believe it or not! Seriously!
Matter of fact, I like this game so much that, whenever I plop it into my Atari, I play one of each game (Progressive being my favorite), aside from the first and last ones (i. e. Breakout and the Children's version). The games are quick and fun, and that's really all that matters; after all, this is arguably one of the few 2600 cartridges that actually outshines the arcade original. About the only gripe I have with this is the very slow scoring, as racking up 2,000 points on any game (save the Children's variation) is a fairly major accomplishment.
Especially if you were suckered in by the cover art. Makes me wonder what people thought of the Telesys Ram It cover (anyone who's seen that one or owns it knows what I mean):
Father (picking up Ram It game): Hey son, how about this one?
Son (looking at cover): Holy (*#!
It's Breakout. SUPER Breakout! The always advancing Progressive mode. My favorite!
Graphics Score: 60%
Sound & Music Score: 75%
Gameplay Score: 80%
Control Score: %
Final Score: 80%
YES! This was my favorite 2600 game! I loved BREAKOUT and CIRCUS ATARI so the drawing of the
astronaut did not fool me. The graphics and control are a HUGE improvement over the old Breakout.
Yes, I DO have a good pair of paddles and control is spot on. (For lousy control try playing the SB
emulation on PSX! Impossible! You NEED a paddle!)
If your paddle has the "jitters", try twisting it around a lot. I find that if you leave paddles unused for
a long time they become jittery. USE them! It will tighten up with time!