Review – Wizorb

Wizorb has been slightly misrepresented in trailers, but that doesn’t stop it from being pretty cool.

The impression most people have of the game is that it’s a cross between Breakout and RPGs, with sweet pixel art. In reality, it’s Breakout with some very light RPG elements, and super-sweet pixel art.

The game is very much focussed on the Breakout aspect. In each of the five worlds, you’ll face 12 levels and then a boss level at the end. Levels are colourful and brilliantly designed, but the game is still standard Breakout stuff, mostly. You’ll move your paddle left and right and deflect a ball to break all the blocks in the level and then progress to the next and you’ve got three lives in which to reach the end. You can continue three times and extra lives are available throughout the levels, but it’s not always easy to get to the world’s boss and it’s almost recommended that the game is played on “easy” which gives you a couple of extra lives per continue, it really makes a difference later on.

The bosses are excellent. While sometimes they’re as simple as hitting them with the ball, sometimes they require a little more strategy than that, and that’s where the magic comes in.

You have a few magic spells at your disposal such as a fireball that fires from your paddle and destroys a block, a fairy that lets you manoeuvre the ball directly, and a few others. They’re always ready as long as you’ve got the MP to cast them, with your MP replenished by collecting potions which fall from certain destroyed blocks.

There’s more to think about than there would be in a basic Breakout clone, then, and between balancing magic and thinking about angles and lives and gold there’s a lot to contend with. It plays really well, and in hours of play there wasn’t a single instance where I thought a death wasn’t my fault. That’s a positive that can’t really be stressed enough. In so many Breakout clones (and there are so many on XBLIGs, even) the paddle is difficult to control. It’s too fast, or it doesn’t stop quickly enough, or the momentum is all wrong. Wizorb gets the movement completely spot on, absolutely perfect. When you want it to move somewhere, you’ll be able to put it exactly where you want it at exactly the speed you want to put it there.

The Breakout side of the game is excellent, but the RPG side of it is lacking. It’s not bad, or anything, it’s just very light. There’s a basic plot about a village that’s been destroyed which you can pay to restore using gold coins you collect in levels, but there’s not really any focus on this at all if you want to ignore it completely, you could do, because it doesn’t have much impact on whether or not you’ll complete the final world, the rewards you get from the RPG side of the game are just things that you can get from destroyed blocks in the levels anyway.

It’s not really an issue, though. The RPG side of the game may be light but it’s the Breakout side of it that you should be here for because it’s a really tremendous rendition of it. Combined with magic, bosses, and some secret hidden paths in levels that unlock a super-attack, there’s loads of variation in the gameplay and it’s something I happily sat and played to completion, enjoying every minute.

Wizorb is available now for 240 Microsoft Points.

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