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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Palm OS games

Ricochet by Astraware, $14.95
Reviewed January 2003

I became a faithful fan of Reflexive after playing their excellent space flight-shooter game Swarm on the PC. Despite that, I never knew that Reflexive had developed a Breakout game for the PC called Ricochet until Astraware ported it to Palm. Just as with other Reflexive games, Ricochet showcases some slick artwork and visual effects and gives this classic game a new interpretation. Astraware always has a keen eye for fun and addictive games, and thanks to that, we have another great Palm OS game.

The power-ups and brick variations add twists to the classic game play. Ricochet has 4 distinct environments where not only do the graphics look distinct from each other, but the power-ups and brick behaviors are also very different. When you pick up power-ups, you will see some usual effects such as fire balls, multiple balls, change of the size and speed of the balls, and some unusual ones like the rail ball, guns and rockets. There are also levels that have balls trapped in the brick structure, bouncing and waiting for you to liberate them. Of course, there are power-ups that will change your shield (paddle) as well, making it longer or shorter. There’s even one that turns your shield into an “electro-magnetic ball catcher”.

Among the special effect bricks, there are exploding bricks. If you hit them, they will destroy all the neighboring bricks or cause a chain reaction if any of the neighboring bricks are exploding bricks. Some bricks move around the screen, giving you chance to come up with more than one strategy on where to hit the ball. The Push bricks will collide into the bricks beside them each time you hit them. The Changers will start a chain reaction when you hit it, and you will have an entirely different type of bricks before you know it. I had one level where I hit a Changer, and all of sudden; all my bricks turn into explosive bricks. You will see a mix of these special bricks in many of the 150 plus levels. You'll run into levels where the bricks will destroy themselves with a couple of hits, while other levels will take you forever to finish.

Ricochet offers plenty of great visual effects and animations and is one of the best Breakout games on Palm OS. The game is divided into four unique environments, each with its own brick styles and color themes. You will appreciate the cold steel-like bricks on the steel gray background, or the nautical sign bricks on the deep ocean background. The artwork is slick and the brick design and layout show great creativity. Astraware did a great job porting the game, making Ricochet one of the best looking games on Palm.

The only thing missing in the Palm version is the music and various sound FXs. The best sound you will get is melodic midi mix even on Sony Cliés and OS 5 devices-- a very stripped down version of its full sound package in Reflexive’s original. Ricochet for Palm supports OS 3.1 and higher, including Sony hi-res and OS 5 devices.

Just when you think a classic game has been cloned enough, a game like Ricochet will give you a pleasant surprise. The stylish graphics and interesting game play will capture both casual gamers and Breakout faithful. With large number of levels and plenty of layout variations, Ricochet will give you a great run for your money!

Playing Hint and Tips

Check out what all the power-ups give you!

screen shot

Above, high res version for Sony Clie and Palm OS 5 PDAs. Below standard res 160 x 160 version.

screen shot



Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics It’s amazing how much the Palm version is able to keep the original look of the PC version. Plenty of great artwork and visual effects.
Sound The sound in the Palm version doesn't’t have as much to offer as the original. The sound is better on PDAs with high quality sound support (Clié and OS 5 devices).
Fun Meter For people who always enjoy a game of Breakout, the great looking graphics and fun game play will give you plenty of reason to get hooked.
Addictivity Over 150 levels of layouts and different brick effects give huge depth to the game.

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