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Breakout

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Released: 1976

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Atari

Submitted by: Alex Holmes

Now, the reason I love this game is more the history of it as much as the actual game itself.

An interview I read with Atari founder Nolan Bushnell some years ago in which he shed light upon the origins of Breakout first sparked my interest in this game, and while I had always known about it, I had always thought of it as just another game, a notch on Atari’s impressive bedpost if you will.

Like Atari itself, the whole game is wrapped in history, the fact that they wanted to expand the whole “moving blocks” concept that was Pong, the fact that Steve Jobs worked on it with his friend Steve “Woz” Wokniak who used to hang around and helped with the engineering, despite not actually being an official employee of Atari, and of course, the fact the Jobs and Wozniak went on to create Apple Computers.

I’m not even going to explain the gameplay, everyone who’s ever touched a joystick knows how it works, but what I find interesting is that in the original Breakout there are only 2 screens, and once you clear them both you just continue to bat the ball on an empty level, which is why the game itself is hard to find, as it was shortly after “updated” to Super Breakout, which not only had lots more levels, but also a series of different modes which incorporate moving blocks, extra balls and using multiple bats at once, which give the game a great deal of depth and variety.

Classic stuff that spawned many versions over the years, including the mighty Arkanoid series.