Version tested: DS
36 years on and there's still inspiration to be drawn from Breakout, Atari's formative, blockbusting arcade game that helped define the very vocabulary videogames have been jabbering ever since. A sort of inverse Peggle, with Bjorn the Unicorn swapped out for a missile-riding Tron nanobot, Reflect Missile does little to advance upon its primal inspiration's simplistic visuals. Instead, it snuggles up to the primitive 8-bit aesthetic, placing cool monotone green or red Amstrad blocks atop school exercise-book graph-paper backgrounds and soundtracking them with chiptune lullabies. Only the tiniest flashes of contemporary flair are permitted here: fading missile trails that bisect the screen or pixel-art fireworks that bloom when a stage is completed.
No, at 500 DSi Points, Q-Games isn't interested in turning Breakout into Virtua Tennis. Rather, it's interested in taking Breakout, snapping it apart and putting it back together again with some of the pieces back to front. The developers' ability to take a building-block genre and simmer it down to a zingy concentrate has been proved time and again by way of its PixelJunk suite of titles on PlayStation 3, which have variously reduced and reshaped tower defence, racing and shoot-'em-ups. While Reflect Missile doesn't bear the family name, it certainly shares the family likeness of its PSN cousins, adding a few precise rules and ideas to its inspiration to create something that's at once entirely fresh yet entirely familiar.
The similarities to Atari's classic begin and end in the block-breaking objective. Here, rather than having to clear every hover brick in a stage, you have a handful of multicolored targets that must be destroyed. Usually nested in a bed of superfluous bricks, you have to use your limited number of missiles to strike at these targets. Missiles come in a number of different flavours. Reflectors bounce off the play area's walls a limited number of times, chipping away at surrounding blocks as they ricochet around. Drillers tunnel their way towards their targets, creating long gullies down which subsequent projectiles can be sent, while Bombers simply explode on first touch, taking any surrounding blocks with them.
In contrast to Breakout and its legion of clones, Reflect Missile is not a game of twitch reactions. Instead, you painstakingly line up each and every shot, angling the trajectory of each missile till it's perfectly in place, before releasing the stylus to launch it towards its target. Most levels give you just five or six missiles to play with, a tight restriction that moves the experience away from the ball-physics exuberance of Peggle to a far more austere puzzle place, one that requires first experimentation and then perfection of approach.