Gameloft’s original Block Breaker Deluxe hit mobile phones like a medium-sized cyclone when it came out four years ago; it put all the other breakout games to shame and camped out on Top Sellers lists for month after month. We are very happy to tell you that its iPhone sequel is better in every way. Gameloft has no business selling this game for $1.99, and you have no business not downloading it to your iPhone.
Block Breaker Deluxe 2 is the best breakout clone we’ve ever played, bar none, hands down, full stop. It takes the ‘classic’ breakout experience’”a Spartan affair without powerups, special blocks, or any other baubles’”and pushes every aspect of that simple gameplay to its limits. And then it goes a little further.
We’ll start with powerups and run down the list. The game has all the familiar boosters we’ve come to expect in breakout games, like lasers, multiball, and paddle wideners. It also has a half-dozen different types of ball modifier, like Fire Ball, Ice Ball, and Cannon Ball. You can pick up guided missiles that track along with your paddle, a jetpack that lets you slam balls right through stacks of blocks, a melter that fuses smaller blocks into big ones for easy breaking, and yo-yos and magnets that tether the ball to the paddle in various ways. As if that weren’t enough, there are also ‘powerdowns’ that screw up your game by shrinking the paddle, slowing it down, and causing it to blink in and out of invisibility, among other irritants.
These powerups are very cleverly designed. They’re all useful in generic circumstances, and some of them are vital for beating certain levels. You can collect and hold several at once, and activate them as you need them; you can also upgrade them (and your paddle in general) by spending money in the game’s store. Upgrades and powerups are nice separately; upgradeable powerups are awesome, especially when you jack them all the way up to their maximum level. Pimping out your paddle is a blast.
Block Breaker Deluxe 2’s levels are, in a word, insane. They’re sprawling labyrinths littered with explosives that blow huge chunks in the fortifications, and they often have multiple stages that are accessed by hitting a switch. In a brilliant twist, you can actually control how certain parts of some levels move by tilting the iPhone to open gates and spin wheels around; it’s kind of like playing a kinetic sculpture. And there are also many inventive boss challenges to overcome, like knocking the ledges out from under your enemy’s feet.
If playing through the story mode isn’t your thing, the game’s got several other unlockable play modes, including the randomly generated Endless Mode, a Time Attack Mode, and a Block Master Mode where the blocks constantly advance towards your paddle. Should you need to kill some time with a friend, Multiplayer puts two paddles on either side of the screen and leaves you to cooperatively work through the levels. This kind of local multiplayer is a rarity on the iPhone, and we’d like to see more of it.
Block Breaker Deluxe 2 looks a lot like Gameloft’s other casual iPhone games, meaning it’s polished to a gleam and packed with fancy artwork and effects. On the game board, blocks explode in showers of twinkling stars on finely detailed backgrounds. Off of it, the same collection of beautiful young European people that always appear in Gameloft games will taunt your block-breaking skills. The music, a collection of dancy Eurotronica, fits the game’s glamorous clubbing motif perfectly. What’s with the little girl’s voice announcing all of your powerups, though?
Block Breaker Deluxe 2 is a tremendously likeable game, and it illustrates the value of Gameloft’s immense scale. A smaller studio could not possibly afford to sell a game with this game’s Olympic-caliber production values for two bucks. iPhone gamers everywhere should take advantage of this windfall.