Review: Centipede/Breakout/Warlords (Game Boy Advance)

Review: Centipede/Breakout/Warlord
Developer: EC-I
Publisher: DSI Games
Genre: Arcade Compilation
Release Date: 8/21/05

You’ve probably noticed by now that Liquidcross, Tom N and I have a thing for DSI Games. On August 21st, they released 5 new Game Boy Anthologies for a budget price of 15 bucks. In fact, here’s a list of what all they are releasing:

2005 Stuntman / V-Rally / Checkered Flag Game Boy Advance
2005 Pong / Asteroids / Yar’s Revenge Game Boy Advance
2005 Risk / Battleship / Clue Game Boy Advance (Reviewed by LC)
2005 Connect Four / Perfection / Trouble Game Boy Advance
2005 Centipede / Breakout / Warlords Game Boy Advance (Being reviewed right now!)
2005 Sorry! / Aggravation / Scrabble Junior Game Boy Advance
2005 Paperboy / Rampage Game Boy Advance (Reviewed by Tom N)
2005 Spy Hunter / Super Sprint Game Boy Advance
2005 Gauntlet / Rampart Game Boy Advance
2005 Marble Madness / Klax Game Boy Advance
2005 Board Game Classics Game Boy Advance
2005 Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar Lander

I personally can’t wait for Marble Madness.Klax and portable Gauntlet.

See, the majority of IP Games are retrogamers. Especially me. We love the old classics and can still appreciate them for their gameplay, originality and FUN, whereas a lot of gamers just look towards graphics and to see if there are big breasted women in the game. it’s nice to see a publisher take classics, put them on one cart and sell them for cheap, in order to get them out to the public at large. Unlike say, Nintendo, who sells a single 8 bit game on a cart and charges twenty dollars for it.

I personally chose this collection because I really miss paddle or ball based games. Breakout and Warlords are old Atari games that required paddles controllers on the home version, and had a ball controller in the arcade. Centipede was similar. These games required a slightly different skill set one had with a joystick, and I was very interested in seeing how these games handled on a D pad. Plus I’m a Centipede whore. What can I say? It’s a shooter. I could put in a single quarter and play until I maxed out the possible high score. And it was nice to see, the first game I played on the GBA, I maxed out the high score to where the game shut itself off. Arcade perfect baby!

The question is, have these three games stood the test of time. There’s little in way of gameplay, and even less in terms of plot. But despite their age, can they still delight the modern gamer who likes dead hookers and the occasional fart joke in their 50$ DVD’s?

Let’s Review

1. Compilation & Modes

As there’s several games to review here, and little to no plot, let’s look at what each game does have to offer.

Centipede: The game of Centipede is simply a vertical shooter in which you blow up a giant centipede composed of many parts. When you shoot a section off, it turns into a mushroom which can block your shots, but also hinders the Centipede. If you shoot a segment of the Centipede that is neither the head nor the tail piece, it turns into two centipedes which you must now track down. The game is simply about surviving as long as you can, or until you get an Arcade Perfect score which ends the game anyway. Centipede offers three difficulty stages, although the only real difference is how many points give you an extra life. Still, it does give more of a challenge that one thinks.

Breakout: is simply you trying to smash every brick in a wall with a small ball that speeds up as it goes through the different layers. You have to ricochet the ball off your paddle to stay alive. If you miss hitting the ball, you lose a life. Again. Very simple. However, this version of Breakout offers FIVE gameplay modes in addition to normal play. You have Timed Mode, which is you breaking as many pieces as you can in a certain amount of time. You have Breakthru Mode, which means your ball never stops moving and can go through many pieces at once, instead of hitting one and then bouncing off. This also makes the ball go MUCH faster. There is steerable, where you can control what direction the ball flies off in. The fourth mode is Catch, where you can have the ball stick to your paddle by pressing and holding the A button. The fifth and final mode is invisible. With this mode, everything is invisible. Pretty obvious, right? You’re probably wondering how you can even play then. Well for a brief moment when the ball collides with a brick, everything lights up. It’s a true challenge for old school Breakout masters.

And the final twist? You can mix and match all of these modes together! You can have an invisible catch game. You can have a steerable breakthrough. You can have all five additional modes going at once. It’s a great way to bring new life to an old game!

Warlords: Warlords is the only game that isn’t a straight port from the Arcade. This version has new graphics and even some new gameplay. In Warlords, you play as one of four feuding Lords who seeks to control the entire Kingdom of…whatever. Each of you has set up castles and you are trying to breakthrough your opponents’ castle and have a ricocheting fireball (Also how you destroy the castle) hit the Lord inside.

In this updated version, after a certain amount of time, more fireballs will appear. The most I’ve had on at once is three, but trust me, more than one can be crazy hectic (and fun!). As well, instead of being a last man standing event like the original, this updated version of Warlords has you go to an entirely new battle with three new opponents and the game keeps going until you finally get killed. As well, there’s a score in this version, so you earn points for doing damage and outlasting your opponents.

There’s a multiplayer mode, and in fact, Warlords was one of (if not THE) first 4 person game. You need a GBA multitap to play it, and alas, I did not know of even a single other person to have this cart, much less 3. Still, Multiplayer Warlords is simple and a great deal of fun. In fact, if you have Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete for the PS1, you can unlock a Lunarized version of Warlords. Even back in 2000 when that came out, Lunar Warlords was one of the most fun games in my collection.

So overall, we have three games. Three classic games. Three VERY FUN classic games. For fifteen dollars. And each has more than one mode. Really, it’s like getting ten games for 15$, and you can’t beat a deal like that, eh? Already, this has become one of my favorite GBA games, and will always accompany me on road or plane trips. But I know they could have fit another 2-3 games on here without even trying. But why quibble?

Compilation and Modes Rating: 8/10

2. Graphics

Heh. Well, Breakout and Centipede are straight from the early 1980’s. And they are very ugly compared to today’s games. A 13 year old with minimal computer knowledge could make something more attractive.

Warlords however, has a pretty decent graphical improvement. it’s up to late NES/Early Genesis level graphics. That’s still pretty poor for a GBA game, but none of these games are about looks.

If Warlords hadn’t been updated visually, I’d have given this a 1 for looks. Instead, it gets a 2 as Warlords is worth a 5/10 alone.

Graphics Rating: 2/10

3. Sound

There’s no music to any of these games. it’s just sound affects. And those effects are generally bleeps, blurps, bloops, and the occasional noise of something being destroyed. Warlords is the best sound with the wings of a dragon fluttering (It’s where the fireballs come from) and the exploding noises. Centipede and Breakout however, has 2600 style noises, which aren’t bad, but even in their day, they weren’t really much to talk about.

Two of the games are arcade perfect, and it’s nice to here the sounds of yesteryear, but like graphics, this is one place where these games show their age,

Sound Rating: 3/10

4. Control and Gameplay

For Warlords and Breakout the controls are pretty simple You move the D pad and it moves your on screen paddle. You press the A button to hold the (Fire)ball. There’s nothing to it. Warlords is spot on, while Breakout does seem to have some collision detection issues. I’ve seen the ball hit my paddle but it register that the ball fell into the gap. And once where the ball hit my paddle and instead of going up, it went down at angle. That’s not supposed to happy under any stretch of the imagination. Although these faults are minor and happen rarely, it does make Breakout a bit depressing to play when this happens.

Centipede is again simple. The D pad moves your ship, and the A button lets you fire. Button mashing works MUCH better than holding the button down. Just like in the arcade and on the Atari 2600. WONDERFUL!

It’s hard to really talk controls here as this is as basic as basic gets. These games are synonymous with what fun gameplay is all about and inspired many games after it. Centipede launched MANY shooters, including it’s own sequel in Millipede. Warlords showed us that more than two player gaming can be addicting and fun. Breakout gave us well…super breakout and my beloved Arkanoid.

Aside from the occasional glitch in Breakout, these games are simple to learn, but will take you quite some time to master.

Control Rating: 8/10

5. Replayability

All three of these games will never play the same way twice. The AI in Warlords is pretty tight and challenging, even for those that could beat the original in their sleep. Centipede is like any shooter, where you keep playing until you can’t possibly get any better. Then you play some more. Breakout never ends, so again, it’s playing for the highest score you can get before the game ends itself.

The extra modes in Breakout, the difficulty levels in Centipede and the multiplayer in Warlords helps the game feel fresh even after you’ve played it for a while. But truthfully, you can really play each game for an hour and have a taste of what it will be like after playing the game for 20-30 hours. You’ll just simply get better at them.

Still, it will take you quite some practice to Arcade Perfect Centipede and Breakout. And there’s a reason these games are still revered 2 decades after their original release.

Replayability rating: 6/10

6. Balance

You can’t get better than these games in this category, if only because you’re playing against yourself in all of them. In Breakout, how you hit the ball affects where it will go, what it will hit, and where it will land. You have to understand angles and trajectory. Breakout was the early predecessor to all the physics engines we talk about today. Eventually, if you lose a life, it’s due to your only previous actions.

In Warlords the same is true, but then you add 3 CPU’s with pretty decent AI. The intelligence of the computer also seems to fluctuate. Sometimes you can’t get a hit on him. Sometimes it’s pretty dumb. And this goes for all three opponents. This means the game will also give you a random challenge. And since the game doesn’t end until you finally get beaten, Level 3 could actually be easier than level 1.

Centipede though. That’s the challenge. it’s a shooter after all. After you’ve played the game a million or so times, you learn the advantage of where to shoot the creepy crawlie so the mushroom is dropped in a strategically advantageous place for you and not the computer. It’s a lot of work to get good at Centipede, and where much worth it.

Two of the games are only as difficult as you let them be, while the third is a testament to the “shoot things and mash buttons” genre I love so much. No matter what your skill level or experience in gaming is, this GBA cart will always having something for you.

Balance Rating: 8/10

7. Originality

These three games have been ported all over the place. From the arcade to the 2600 to the Dreamcast to now the GBA, you can find these three games on just about any system. However, I don’t ever remember these three games ported together on one cart, or in a portable format. So that’s a nice touch.

They update to Warlord’s graphics and gameplay is enjoyable too, and even hardcore “don’t change it” old school fanatics will be happy here.

Originality Rating: 5/10

8. Addictiveness

These games may be simple, but they hook you in like a grappling hook laden tractor beam. You’ll be amazed at how drawn in you can be by a game where you only use one button and a D pad. Where all you do in two games is try and keep a ball away from your side of the screen like a soccer goalie.

And Centipede? Oh, it’s a shooter. You’ll either become so engrossed you’ll lose track of time, or you’ll get frustrated and quit right away.
This single cart contained a trinity of some of the best games Atari had to offer can last you for hours. And no matter how often you come back to it, the fun level will never decrease. These games never get old.

Addictiveness Rating: 7/10

9. Appeal Factor

This cart has been pretty much under the radar of everyone. No other gaming site has even mentioned it. So imagine how many casual gamers even know it exists!

Fans of classic gaming will really want to pick this up. These games are also great for younger gamers in regards to giving them a nice simple basic game to learn and to hone their hand to eye coordination with. Even older gamers will enjoy this. They just have to remember gameplay is more important than graphics. Sadly, that mindset is getting more and more scarce amongst gamers.

Still, for those who actually go looking for this and decide to buy it, I can’t imagine you NOT enjoying it.

Appeal Factor: 5/10

10. Miscellaneous

For 15 bucks, DSI has given us a heck of a deal. These games are fun, addicting, and timeless. I’m really happy to see compilations like this come out rather than 20-30$ for Castlevania on the GBA from Nintendo and Konami. The best way to keep the classics alive is to bundle them together on the cheap. And DSI has done a pretty good job with the cart I’m reviewing, and it looks like my fellow Kliq members agree.

This is one of the best GBA purchases I’ve made considering the dollar spent to fun had ratio.

Miscellaneous Rating: 7/10

THE SCORES

Compilation and Modes: 8/10
Graphics: 2/10
Sound: 3/10
Control & Gameplay: 8/10
Replayability: 6/10
Balance: 8/10
Originality: 5/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Appeal: 5/10
Miscellaneous: 7/10

Overall Score: 59/100
FINAL SCORE: 6.0 (Above Average)

Short Attention Span Summary
It’s 15$. It’s three great games. Sure it may look and sound ugly, but beauty is after all, only skin deep.