Balls + Bricks + Aliens = Pinball Breaker Forever
Pinball Breaker Forever probably isn’t the first game to come up with the idea of mixing the traditional brick-breaker with pinball, but its dedication to properly blending the concepts results in something truly special. The alien invader theme brings a third classic gameplay concept into the mix, with the neon visual style and synth soundtrack being the final touches in planting the game’s flag firmly in the 1980s era.
Yet for all its retro leanings, Pinball Breaker Forever has a decidedly modern sensibility to it. That’s most obvious in its system of unlocks and upgrades, which gives the player meta-goals to work towards along with a sense of persistence from game to game. Getting a high score in a game is a lot of fun, but using the coins you collected while getting that high score to unlock a cool new power-up or flipper design? That’s the cherry on top of the sundae.
Systems like these generally result in a game that becomes more complex over time, and that’s certainly the case here. Even in the beginning without anything extra unlocked, however, Pinball Breaker Forever has quite a bit of nuance to it. Your main goal is to clear the bricks before they reach the bottom of the play area. The longer you play, the more difficult this task becomes as the bricks get more numerous and the patterns become more challenging. You don’t need to be an expert at either pinball or brick-breakers to survive the first few waves, but you’ll soon need to demonstrate your skill at both types of games to survive.
The accessibility of these two types of games has long disguised their depth. Anyone can understand how to play a brick-breaker at a basic level, and it’s not hard to grasp the idea of whacking a ball with some flippers. Dig a little deeper on both and you realize there’s a lot more to them. Brick-breakers are really about carefully guiding your shots to get the ball where it needs to be in order to take out a lot of bricks at once, as each bounce off of your paddle tends to speed the ball up and make it harder to return. Pinball may appear to be a game that relies heavily on chance until you see a seasoned player using the flippers with precision to send the ball at whatever target they desire.
Pinball Breaker Forever, in combining these two genres, requires the player to possess the skills for both in order to truly drive forward. You have to learn how to use the flippers to shoot precisely where you want the ball to go. You have to carefully consider each shot to take out a lot of bricks at once, or specific bricks that will open the way to doing so on your next shot. And thanks to the pressure of having the bricks constantly descending, you have to do all of this pretty quickly. Not too carelessly, mind you, as if you miss the ball and let it drain at the bottom of the screen, the bricks will take a sudden drop that will put you in serious jeopardy.
It adds up to an experience that feels both familiar and fresh all at once. Pinball Breaker Forever is a game that anyone can pick up and play, but that strongly rewards those who spend more time learning its ins and outs. When you add in the simple yet striking neon visuals and the excellent music by Luc Vachon, you get an extremely compelling package that does a great job of building a modern experience around a classic core.