Let’s face facts: Breakout is basically a lonely-hearts version of Pong, with no other onscreen paddle to bounce balls off of.
Despite its inherent derivativeness, the now-ubiquitous Atari title holds unique charms of its own. Breakout was one of the first video games to thrill with simulated physics, where mastering the English to send the square ball careening exactly where you wanted proved as exciting as playing another person.
In fact, you might call the mandated destruction of that implacable ceiling of rainbow blocks gaming’s first boss battle. Breakout‘s game flow ramps up the way boss battles that followed it would: the ball speed increased while the paddle size shrunk. And when you penetrated that top layer so the ball bounced in a tight, destructive ricochet? A perfect pulse of sheer, electric glee ensued.
In short, the better you did, the harder things got. Welcome to the rest of your lives, gamers.
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