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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.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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