DX Ball is wonderful Breakout game created by Michael P Welch. It is based on an old Amiga game called MegaBall, and Michael has tried to keep an Amiga 'feel' to his game. The idea is to clear the screen of bricks by breaking them with your ball. However, there are different types of bricks, which makes things a lot more interesting. Some bricks are invisible at first, and don't appear until you hit them for the first time. Flashing bricks will explode when hit, and gold bricks cannot be destroyed by a normal ball. A paddle at bottom of the screen is used to 'fire' the balls, and you must keep your ball bouncing around the screen until all the bricks are broken. Balls will bounce off walls, ceilings, other bricks, as well as your paddle. Some bricks reveal power-ups when broken, and you can collect these power-ups simply by catching them with your paddle. You need to keep an eye on the ball though, as sometimes, going for a power-up will make you miss the ball and loose a paddle. When all the bricks are cleared, then you can progress to the next level. If you drop a ball, then you lose a valuable paddle (you begin with 3 paddles), and if you lose all your paddles, then the game is over.
There is a fantastic amount of power-ups (18 in total) - some good, and some bad. As well as the usual Grow Paddle, Shrink Paddle (your paddle will grow or shrink), Grab Paddle (ball sticks to the paddle instead of bouncing), Split Ball (ball splits into two) and Slow Ball (ball slows down), there are also new power-ups such as Next Level (you jump straight to the next level), Lasers (guns are added to your paddle, so you can shoot bricks), Falling Bricks (bricks move closer to your paddle) and Thru Ball (ball cuts straight through all bricks in its path). There are lots more, but I will let you discover them for yourself.
The game is controlled by mouse, so it is very easy to play. Simply move your mouse left or right to move the paddle left or right. The paddle is used to catch the ball, as well as collecting power-ups that fall down. Left-click to 'fire' the ball, or to fire lasers (if you have lasers on your paddle) at the bricks.
Graphics are very crisp and clear. The black background makes it easy to spot where the ball is, and the paddle moves very smoothly. Power-ups that fall down are very clear, and it is fun to try and catch them. I liked how 'Good' power-ups are shown in blue, 'Bad' ones are in red, and 'Neutral' ones are shown in grey. This makes it easier to avoid the ones you don't like. Your score is shown at the top left, and the number of paddles you have left is shown at the top right.
MUSIC & SOUND EFFECTS
The sound effects for DX Ball are very impressive. I love the 'boing' as the ball hits the paddle, as well as the thud as it hits the roof. Even hitting various bricks has different sound effects. For example, pink bricks sound like glass when hit, and flashing bricks have a wonderful 'explosion' sound. Bricks hiding power-ups have their own unique sound when hit. The music, however, is a different story. If you want to hear in-game music, then simply press F5 to turn it on, but I don't recommend that. There are about 4 or 5 different tunes. I found them poor, and thought that they detract from the game. It seems to be a random choice which tune you will hear, but you can scroll through them by pressing F5 again. Press F6 if you want to turn off the music.
DX Ball is a addictive Breakout game, and you will find yourself coming back to it many times. The game can get very fast and furious, and it is so easy to miss a ball and lose a paddle. There are a lot of power-ups, and you have to be careful not to collect the 'Bad' power-ups be accident. Graphics are colourful, and animation is very smooth. Your ball is easy to spot, thanks to the black background. Sound effects are excellent, with each type of brick having its own unique sound. My only gripe is the bland music that doesn't fit in with the game. Thankfully, that is turned off by default. All in all, a lovely game that will have you hooked for hours.
Please note, there is a problem with the screenshots, and they do not truly represent the in-game colours. When you actually play the game, you will realease that colours are not so psychedelic.
Review by: Frodo