Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure is set in the early 2300s where Earth is still recovering from a decade-long World War that pretty much devastated the planet. The United States managed to use its power and prestige to avoid fighting, but instead reach for the stars. Unfortunately, the NASA generation ships disappear and two pilots are sent to investigate the mysterious disappearance.
Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure is a brick-breaking game with a twist. Instead of one paddle, players control two of them (up to four) with both joysticks. You need to move the platforms around in order to keep the ball bouncing around in order to break all the bricks and move on to the next level. While the premise sounds pretty simple, the developers added a few quirks to make things more challenging.
As you break bricks, you’ll be able to earn power-ups in order to give players a bit of help in their brick-breaking ways. You can have wider platforms, shields that cover both sides of the holes, a metal ball that will crush through every brick in one hit, having to juggle two balls at once (while a benefit, but it can also be a detriment to keep two balls alive). However, you can also get debuffs that will make things harder for you. For example, insects will sometime escape from destroyed bricks and hitting them can result in the afflicted platform being shorter and slower.
As you progress through the “Story” based mode called Level Select (weird), after a set amount of levels, you’ll find a boss where you’ll need to take down a big baddy along with destroying the blocks standing in your way of doing damage to it. You don’t need to destroy every block; you have to focus your ball guidance on the boss; obviously, eliminating all the blocks will help depending on the level design.
You start each level with three hearts which serves as lives. Once all three lives have been used, if your score is high enough, you can exchange 100 points of your score for an extra chance. Otherwise, you can either return to the main menu or retry the level. As you progress, you’ll have to juggle four platforms; those on the right are moved with the right joystick and both left with the left one. It has an additional layer of difficulty and oft-confusion as you can sometimes accidentally confuse both joysticks when trying to move a specific platform.
The game has a bevy of game modes to keep players entertained for the foreseeable future. Aside from the Level Select mode, players can jump into Marathon mode where you’re tasked to last as long as possible. You can also jump into Hockey Mode where you need to get the ball past the enemy. Random mode will throw you random levels. Shooter mode adds guns (another power-up) to your platforms and you need to shoot blocks and enemies. Then there’s Catcher mode where you have to catch coins while avoiding flies. And then finally the self-explanatory Boss Rush mode.
The game’s problem is definitely the oft-random pattern of the balls. Even if you place your platform(s) optimally, it won’t guarantee to go in the desired path and it’s especially frustrating where some blocks are nested in pain in the ass, near unreachable section of the level. And of course, every level has a timer. Once the timer runs out, spaceships fly across the screen in order to cause you more headaches than anything else. Given it’s not an automatic game over when the timer runs out, it’s pretty useless.
The game looks great. It’s has a 16-bit visual; with a limited color palette. Every type of brick looks slightly different; for example, light-colored ones will require a few more hits before breaking. The story is told through 16-bit cutscenes reminiscent of games from the golden era of gaming. The soundtrack is an interesting 16-bit that brought me back to my childhood days as I spent weekends playing the Super NES; it feels both old and new at the time.
Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure is a fun and challenging take on a once simplistic game that we know as Brick Breaker. With the progressively increasing challenge from level to level to its bevy of different game modes, Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure is sure to keep players busy for quite some time. Despite the feeling that some bounces feel random and oft-seemingly out of reach bricks, it doesn’t bring down the experience at all. Definitely a surprise gem of the year.
- Simplistic gameplay
- Handful of gameplay modes
- Some near unreachable bricks will make completing levels a pain
- Managing four platforms is frustrating