Jardinains is a fun Breakout game made by Magic Chopstick Games. The idea of the game is to clear the screen of bricks by using your ball and paddle to hit the bricks and destroy them. When all the bricks are gone, then you can progress onto the next level. But here's the twist. There are some mischievous gnomes - or Nains, as they prefer to be called - who live in those bricks. And they don't like you hitting balls at them!
The Nains will do whatever they can to stop you from destroying their bricks. When a Nain first shows himself, he might wave, and say 'Hello' to get your attention. Nains also like to dance, and it is funny to watch them (just don't get too distracted). Their favourite trick, however, is to throw flowerpots at you. They will hold a flowerpot high above their head, and try to smash it on your paddle. If they manage to hit you, then your paddle is frozen for a short while, and you will lose points. But don't worry, you can get your own back on them. If you hit a brick with a Nain on it, he will fall down with a painful yell, and you can bounce him around on your paddle, just like a ball (hee hee). The longer you manage to bounce him, the more points you will get.
When you start the game, you are given the choice of Easy, Normal, Hard or Insane Mode. You can type in your name, so the game will remember you. Jardinains is controlled by the mouse, so it is easy to play. Move your mouse left and right to move the paddle, then simply click the mouse to fire the ball. You start with 3 lives (paddles), but you can easily lose or gain a life as the game progresses. Levels get progressively harder as the game goes on, and more and more Nains are throwing flowerpots at you. When you lose all your lives, then the game will end. But you are given the choice if you want to quit the game, or start again at that level (but with no points). You can even come back another day to start where you left off, so you don't have to start at the beginning each time.
As I said earlier, the aim is to destroy all bricks on the screen. Some bricks reveal power-ups when broken, and you can catch these with your paddle. However, there are several different types of bricks, and they come in many different colours. Most bricks are destroyed by a single hit - no problem. But gold and silver bricks need multiple hits before they break. Some bricks are even invisible at first, and you can't see them until they are hit for the first time. In later levels, bricks can sometimes switch between steel non-breakable bricks to red breakable bricks.
Power-ups are 'bonuses' that can help or hinder the game. There are a good variety of power-ups, and it's fun to see what effect each of them have. Some of the power-ups are Rabbit (Speed Up), Tortoise (Slow Down), Catapult (Split Ball), 1UP (Extra Life), and lots more. My favourite was the Banana Skin that made all Nains on screen fall from their bricks.
The graphics are very colourful, and the black background makes it easy to spot where the ball is. Nains are very mischievous, and I like how their eyes peek out first to see what is going on. They are so cute when they dance - it seems like they are really having fun. When they are holding a flowerpot, their eyes will move left and right as they watch where your paddle is. It is funny watching them fall, as their arms and legs will flail about. Bricks that need multiple hits gradually crack more and more every time you hit them, before they are finally destroyed. Even the power-ups are represented by an appropriate graphic - a hare for speeding up, a tortoise for slowing down etc. The level you are on, as well as your lives and your score are shown on the right.
MUSIC & SOUND EFFECTS
I like hearing the Nains say 'Hello' when they appear, it gives them a lot of character. They say 'Whoa' when knocked off their bricks, and yell when they are being bounced around. Poor Nains! However, they have such an infectious laugh when they hit your paddle. Bricks also have a good sound. Gold and silver bricks have a distinctive 'Metallic' sound when you hit them, as they need multiple hits before they break. Single hit bricks have a satisfying 'Thud' sound when hit. Music is very cheerful and upbeat, which makes the game fun to play.
A lot of work has gone into making Jardinains a fun game. The idea of adding Nains to the game gives it a lot of character. They are cheeky, and they are mischievous, but they keep you coming back for more. It is easy to control, as you just move your mouse left and right. But it can be VERY chaotic trying to juggle ball(s) around, keep a Nain bouncing, and avoiding flowerpots - all at the same time!!! If you get hit by a flowerpot, then you cannot move for a while, which leaves you vulnerable. There is a good selection of power-ups, and each one is represented by a unique graphic. The Nains are very cute, and it is funny watching them move around. Sound effects are also very impressive. I like how the game remembers your progress, so you don't have to start from the beginning each time. Jardinains is an addictive game, and I can highly recommend it.
Review by: Frodo