Wizorb's a funky new downloadable from Beatshapers, a prolific publisher of PlayStation minis - in particular, those ported from other devices. Don't that put you off, though, as - much like the rest of their catalogue - Wizorb is top-notch, and ideally suited to the platform.

The retro aesthetic is wrapped around classic gameplay, too, with the Arkanoid-like action instantly reminiscent of games of yesteryear. Dig a little deeper, however, and you quickly find that while it might be packed full of 8-bit charm, it also tips its hat nobly to modern gameplay conceits, resulting in a package that's both nostalgic and relevant.

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The basics: you control a wizard who, in order to bounce balls around effectively, transforms himself into a bat. The aforementioned balls will zip around the level, bashing into things, and it's your job - as the bat - to both smash any bricks or monsters in the level with the ball and prevent that same ball from draining out the bottom of the level. Pretty simple stuff, but executed well so even at its most basic level, it's fun.

One of the major issues often suffered by this type of game is that things are most interesting right at the start of the level. The stage is full of bricks and monsters, with interactions coming thick and fast. As you succeed, things get more boring, with less objects to hit and less opportunity for random bounces / powerups / etc.

Wizorb addresses this largely by giving you some magical powers, including an on-demand fireball (good for smashing that last brick) and the ability to teleport the ball to remote parts of the level (ideal for reaching areas trapped behind unbreakable bricks). These options aren't the perfect foil, however, as many of the layouts will prevent you from being able to hit a brick with the ball, and potions to replenish your magic become quite rare - forcing you to hold back from using it. Still, it's a nice - if not quite perfect - way to offset the age-old brick-breaking quirk.

There's also currency - that drops from broken bricks - to collect, which helps to provide an additional risk / reward structure, as you decide whether to chance collecting the gold or let it drain and instead focus on keeping the ball in play.

The game looks amazing, managing to pull off a real retro aesthetic that looks (and sounds) every bit as if it was plucked out of the golden age of Super Nintendo, Amiga, or Mega Drive gaming. I tried the game on everything from a Vita to a PSP Go and my 46" TV by way of a PlayStation 3 and, without exception, it looked very cool. Of the lot, I'd recommend playing it on the Vita (thanks to that system's spectacular screen), but no matter which compatible PlayStation you've got, you won't be disappointed by the presentation.

Something else that really worked was the control setup. It took awhile for me to understand it but, as soon as I figured out you could hold down a button to move faster, things suddenly fell into place. This clever two-speed configuration gives you the control you need to precisely aim the rebounding ball, as well as the high-speed snap to get across the screen very quickly.

If you're hankering for some classic Arkanoid-style action, but would like a game that adds a little depth and removes the end-level frustration, you've found it. And at just $5.95 / 15 MB, there's no excuse not to get it.

"A spectacular blast from the past, polished for the present."
- Wizorb
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments Comments (2)

Posted by The_YON
On Thursday 2 Aug 2012 2:52 PM
Bat? like the animal or the sport equipment
Posted by phantom
On Thursday 2 Aug 2012 3:08 PM
2 August 2012, 02:52 PM Reply to The_YON
Bat? like the animal or the sport equipment
Like the sporting equipment. It's kinda like a floating baseball bat, as much as anything else.