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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Tony Worrall
Chris Bourne

What an unfortunate title for a game. Kinda brings a tear to the eye - and playing the game may bring on the same result. Ball Breaker is frustratingly hard - maybe they should have called it 'Hardball'. The game, if you didn't already know, is a 3-D Breakout clone. The blocks that have to be thwacked actually look like real blocks. No flat indistinct shapes for this game. Your block sits at one end of the 3-D room, faced by a wall of different valued bricks. Some contain extra lives, others slow down the ball and so on, just like the other Breakout games - but the catch is you can only zap the bottom row of bricks. Anything balanced on top of these blocks then drops to the floor to be collected or zapped again. The higher blocks can't be touched until they reach the ground. This can lead to big problems - especially when a nasty is let loose by the destruction of a block. To complicate matters, some blocks can only be zapped from behind, while some need to be blasted with you handy cannon (but watch that limited ammo!).

There are many more, all detailed in the instruction pages accessible from the impeccable menu screens. Tune into the 128 version for a pleasant ditty that plays all through the game, or switch on the 128 'arcade-style' sound effects. These FX give the game a good deal of extra panache. The colour scheme sticks to the inevitable monotones to avoid clashes, but it works well - the play area is detailed enough to stand out. I said the game was hard - boy, is it tough! It took me hours to crack the second screen. The main problem is the forced 3-D perspective . This makes judging the return of the ball tricky in the extreme. Also most of the walls are far too near the player's bat for comfort. This, together with a couple of small bugs I noticed, make Ball Breaker a pig to play. Addictive, yes - nice on the eye, yes - but hard all the same. One for the Arkanoid/Batty crowd only.

Yet another Breakout clone, this time in fabby 3-D. Great if you like this sort of thing - otherwise avoid.