You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry, You’ll Bounce: Breaksout

I have played 36 variants of classic brick-blaster Breakout this afternoon. One let me control the ball in mid-air. One combined Breakout with Snake. One drew inspiration from Patrick Swayze’s most famous cinematic moment. One was literally a novel. Breaksout [official site] is a strange and funny thing which is a fine answer to the question “What am I going to dick about with to distract myself this lunchtime?”

Created by Pippin Barr, who you might remember for his 36 Pongs, Breaksout is a free browser-based collection of Breakout variants. They put twists on Breakout, smash it into other games, and crack many jokes I’ll try not to spoil.

Breaksout simply presents you with a list of 36 names with no explanations. What does each variant even do? Play them and see if you can figure it out. Some are actually quite fun, more interesting than plain old brick-busting as they drop in dodging, skill shots, or urgency in various ways. The versions colliding with other games can be interesting too. Then there are the jokes. Some are jokes, smooshes, and fun all that same time – what larks!

Barr has written a fair bit about making the game, on coming up with ideas and editing them down, if you’re curious.

I wish the cheap consoles with built-in games and variants that our family bought from car boot sales when I was kid were as interesting as this. Breaksout is a fine few minutes of exploration and play, discovering what they all are and having a bash. Or it’s a wonderful few hours if you play Bleak House to completion. And might never end if you refuse to give up on some.

14 Comments

  1. TechnicalBen says:

    Is Bleak House Procedurally generated? If it is, it could be a work of genius (wish I could read that fast!).

    • Tacroy says:

      It would be weird if it was, it’s an actual novel by Charles Dickens: link to en.wikipedia.org

      It’s probably on Gutenberg if you want to read it.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Ah. It was running past so fast, I could not tell if it was an actual novel (Dickens being an obvious guess for me :P ), or some procedural mixture of it all, Dwarf Fortress style.

        So it was a great work after all. Some funny laughs and meta jokes in the rest of the games.

  2. melerski says:

    If I remember correctly. The Atari2600 version of Pong had alot of silly modes too. For example one when you could only see the bricks for a second when you hit one with the ball.

    I made a silly brick-breaker too a while ago called Optical Ball. You can get it free at itch.io if you want.

    • melerski says:

      ,
      Er, I meant to say Breakout, not Pong.
      My classic Breakout game is Amegas.

    • Y2Kafka says:

      Is that the one where the game is timed and the ball travels really fast when you hit it but really slow when you don’t? Ah man, I have good memories of that game. Partly reaction time, and partly angle prediction.

    • Baf says:

      In fact, didn’t the Atari 2600 cart have a version that’s basically “Ballout” from this game?

  3. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Fond memories of Arkanoid come flooding back.

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    Aerothorn says:

    PONGS is one of my favorite games of the last decade so I am thrilled about this.

    • pippinbarr says:

      That’s going straight into the self-confidence bank. Thanks for saying that.

  5. Epicedion says:

    My favorite is Recursive.

    My other favorite is Xeno’s.

    • Devencire says:

      Those two made me chuckle, as did Breakout of Life.

      Spaceout deserves a mention as one that feels like the premise for a really nifty game, given the connected challenges of protecting the paddle while trying to score points with the ball, and the feeling of helplessness as the ball occasionally careens off into the top of the screen.

  6. Bugamn says:

    The idea is nice, but I felt disappointed by the collision. If I hit a corner of two bricks, only one would be destroyed.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It seems that once the ball hits a brick, it won’t collide with any other bricks until it hits a wall, which is pretty sucky. Try getting on top of the bricks in Ballout.