Radial 50 Review: What’s 360 Degrees Multiplied by 50?

Brick breaker games are a familiar genre for almost everyone.  You have a paddle and a ball, and you need to clear blocks to move on to the next level.  Radial 50 tries to change up the genre a bit, by making the playing field a circle.

In this game, there’s a target in the middle of the screen that you need to hit to complete the stage.  Your paddle can move around the entire circle, with you controlling it by moving your thumb up and down on the right side.  As you break bricks away, powerups are earned and you get closer to the final target.  There is usually a sort of defense mechanism to the inner circle, where blocks will keep reappearing if you don’t finish the level quickly enough.  Once you hit the center, a score is shown for that level and it’s time to start the next.  If you lose at any time, the game ends and you must begin back at level one.

Likes

Aesthetics: The game has a unique style and colourful palette.  When you break bricks and tiny explosions go off, it all looks very impressive.  I think Radial 50’s art style is the best thing this game has going for itself.

Dislikes

Repetive: While there are fifty levels, each level is just so similar that it loses its appeal.  I really enjoyed Radial 50 at the beginning, but as it continued the only real difference between levels was a colour change.  There was a slight change in level design, but nothing radically different.  Part of the appeal of brick breaker games is the variety of levels and the challenge it creates, so it felt really lacking here.  Also, there’s no way I want to bother starting again at level one once I see the game over screen.  It needs a change: make level select an option, and leave the continuous play to level 50 as the “hardcore” mode.

Frustrating controls: I never became comfortable trying to move the paddle around the circle using the sliding method on the screen.  It felt very jagged when moving quickly.  The paddle needs some smoothing from your movements to make the game less frustrating.

Automatic powerups: The fact that powerups are automatically given to you when you hit a certain brick seems like a lost opportunity to spice up the gameplay.  As it stands, all I have to do is watch exactly where my ball is going and never take my eye off of it.  It would have been more fun and challenging to see powerups trickle towards the outer edge and make you need to grab them.  Situations would be created where you need to think quickly about whether it’s worth the risk to miss the ball for a good powerup.

Radial 50’s look and feel started off strong, but the repetitive gameplay turned me off quickly.  Its design and 360 degree gameplay do definitely make it worth a look, however.  My recommendation is to start with the lite version.

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Radial 50 was developed by Roundthird Interactive and is available for $1.99.  I played version 1.01 on an iPod Touch 2G.  There’s also a lite version to try for free.

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