Wizorb iPad Review
I love games that put new a spin on old ideas. It’s like turning an old neglected car into a hot-rod. That’s exactly what Tribute has done– take Breakout, add a story, classic 16-bit styling, a magic system, and a bunch of levels, wrapped-up in a nice little package dubbed Wizorb.
You start out with a map, in that timeless 16-bit style that Tribute is known for. Pick a destination, either interacting with NPC’s, or going to battle. NPC interaction usually consists of reading some sob story, and then deciding whether or not to donate gold to rebuild their destroyed city. Eventually you can fund the cities revival. Character interaction is at a minimum, there’s no deep story of intrigue and suspense. Luckily this doesn’t detract from the fact that breaking blocks is just plain fun.
Each level will have blocks of various colors and strength. You’ll also have enemy creatures, that roam about the level like mobile blocks. You must destroyed all of the blocks and critters, to move on to the next level. Some will drop items, most of which will help you, such as gold, gems and lives. Others will hinder you, such as paddle-slowing slime, gold-stealing evil hands, curses that shrink your wand, or simply destroy it. You have to think fast; some times you have no choice but to take a curse in order to save the ball.
After clearing enough levels, you’ll be treated to a boss fight, which are a blast. One was a werewolf who tried to shoot me wile moving erratically another was a giant slime who would try to jump on my paddle. Both required memorizing their attack patterns and devising strategies to take them out. Every time I managed to take a boss down, I had a smile on my face, and a combined sense of nostalgia and triumph.
Spells come in a variety of flavors: fire-balls break blocks, Wind-spells change ball direction, super-charged balls to do extra damage, and wings that allow you to move the ball manually. My personal favorite was teleport, which allows you to (as you might suspect) teleport the ball directly to a specified location. Each spell uses some mana, so you can’t just spam fire-ball for the whole game. You’ll have to use magic wisely.
Casting spells really adds an extra level of strategy to this classic arcade revival, and gives it a very unique feel.
However, casting spells can be a pain, as the game uses small virtual buttons (A) and (B). Playing on the ipad made me wish for a more intuitive control scheme, such as tapping an extra finger for one spell, or two fingers for the second. Or why not swipe up to cast a fireball, and horizontally to cast wind? I suspect this scheme works well enough on the smaller screen of the iPhone, but with so much more space on the iPad it’s easy to miss key presses at vital times. At the very least, it would be nice to have an option for larger buttons.
Default movement controls for the paddle are 1 to 1. Luckily this can be changed up to 1 to 3 movement, meaning you don’t have to swipe across all of screen to move the paddle. Figuring that out saved me a lot of frustration.
Money can be used in shops, often hidden on the back walls of the levels, that you must shoot the ball into. Here you can spend your hard earned gold on upgrades for the wand, extra lives or more mana for casting. I never found myself at a loss for money, and usually purchased as many lives as I could afford.
Sound and music are both in the 16-bit style. It blends the whole experience together, although some of the music gets a bit repetitive. It’s not an issue for me, as I tend to play games with no music while listening to iTunes.
Despite the iPad version having some minor control issues, with 60 levels, multiple endings and 16-bit classic charm for under 3 bucks, I found it well worth the price. Also, it’s always a pleasure to find an iOS game that doesn’t beg you to make in-app micro-transactions every time you play. I just want to buy a game one time, and that’s it. Luckily Tribute seems to understand.
If you’re looking for some classic brick-breaking action with a fun new twist, check out Wizorb.