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Brick-breaking games are my ultimate time-killing obsession. I still gleefully recall the many hours poured into Nintendo's Alleyway on Game Boy as a child, not to mention the lengthy sessions logged on some half-baked knockoff on my TI-83 graphing calculator during high school classes. I've paddled countless balls at digital bricks in loads of different games on numerous platforms.
However, as a result, the typical genre approach used by countless App Store renditions just doesn't hold much appeal anymore--it takes something truly unique and inspired to grab my interest and reignite my occasionally dormant love for the genre. Brickies is the first game I've played in a good few years to do exactly that.
At a glance, Brickies is no different from arcade classic Arkanoid and the many, many knockoffs that followed: You bat the ball to clear bricks and occasionally grab power-ups to help speed things along. But Noodlecake's game makes one very significant tweak above all: Each stage is timed, and you have to eliminate every brick before the clock ticks down. Rather than challenge you by only offering a couple of lives to work with, Brickies shifts gears and shakes up the tired design.
Add in several other tweaks and alterations, and Brickies is the freshest-feeling brick-breaker I've played in years. And it has a reasonable free-to-play model, so you can dig in with no expense and minimal hassle. Still not convinced? Here are three reasons why Brickies is the shot in the arm this storied genre needed.
Watch the clock: Trading the traditional lives model for a limited clock shakes up the usual way we play brick-breakers. Now, if you don't move your top or bottom paddle over in time to hit the ball back into the play field, you won't lose a life. Instead, the ball deactivates and continues bouncing around--but it won't smash any bricks or snag power-up icons in the meantime. It comes back to life when you hit it next, or after several bounces off of bricks, but the moments in between are spent agonizing over all the time you've just wasted.
Having each stage timed also means that you can't grind out a level, slowly taking out a brick or two after each hit: You must grab the power-ups and use them wisely. Whether it's triggering several additional balls, turning the ball into a bomb that takes out surrounding bricks with each hit, or equipping the ball with an automated laser gun, you'll need those beneficial boosts to get through the trickier stages within. And if you can chain two power-ups together at once, that's even better.
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