Worlds collide in the week's first genre mash-up. But what are we left with afterwards?
What I find myself craving these days isn't even necessarily innovation, just the bringing together of two different worlds for no other reason than to see what happens. A hybrid of old-school bat-and-brick gaming and the standard RPG, Wizorb's been gaining quite a bit of interest lately, so we thought it was high time we had a look at it.
One of those odd things about writing about mobile games is you find yourself having to make a nervous decision about whether to go into the basics of a game like Breakout, and risk having half your audience think you've lost the plot by stating the blindingly obvious, or risk alienating newcomers who may well have been around for the birth of home computer gaming, but didn't care too much for it when it happened.
Well, you can't win so here's the game in very simple terms. You have a bat, upon which you bounce a ball, which pings around the screen, destroying blocks as it comes into contact with them, before ricocheting back around the screen. Clear a formation of blocks, and you succeed at the level. If the block falls below the bat, you lose a life. There, that wasn't too bad.
Now, what Wizorb does it to RPG-ify this whole process, so as well as the traditional upgrades you might expect such as balls that stick to the bat on contact, you gain magical powers which allow you to shoot destructive magic at those tricky-to-reach blocks, or throw a cyclone of wind at your ball to keep it from bouncing away from what's left of the block-smashing action.
There are also enemies which patrol the game's stages, and add dynamism to the gameplay as they undo even your most valiant attempts to strike the perfect angle and reach that last, agonizing block that's hiding just out of reach.
The other reasons for adding this RPG flavor is to lend some purpose to repeat play. You can use the resources you gain to repair the explorable villages, and you'll receive item rewards in exchange. Eventually you'll be able to build your own dwelling so you can get kitted out with upgrades before heading into brick-based battle. Until then, you'll have to settle for sneaking your ball into the shop doors that are hidden within levels.
The controls are....well, they're sort of alright. On the iPad at least, the buttons for launching balls and firing flames are well placed, but they're also really rather small and they don't take advantage of the screen's extra size. It can be a bit fiddly to hit the right button at the right time as a result. It's also a game that's designed for playing on a flat surface, as you're going to need to be able to swipe your left finger across the entire bottom of the screen to get the bat where you want it, while firing with the right.
There are definitely niggles with the controls in the game, but I was won over by the blend of genres, the lovely retro artwork and the kind of chip-tunes that nag away in your brain, long after you've stopped playing. While it's not the best of the hybrid games we've been spoiled with in 2012, it's still a very good one indeed.
What's Hot: An interesting and fun blend of genres, with a few new twists thrown in as well.
What's Not: Fiddly controls, and a sense that this could have been something truly incredible.