Review – Breakout: Recharged

The year has barely started, but Atari has already decided to grace us with, yet again, a title from their Recharged retro revival series. They have done everything from Asteroids to Missile Command. Considering the fact that Pong has received a non-Recharged spinoff with RPG elements, the one meaningful franchise under their wing still waiting for a remake was Breakout, arguably one of Atari’s, if not history’s most influential games of all time, even though its many clones have surpassed it in terms of popularity. Will Breakout: Recharged be the last game in the series? That I don’t know. All I know is that this is the weakest Recharged title released up until now.

Breakout: Recharged

It’s the same game you’ve even played on your old iPod Mini. Just a bit more colorful, and with Pink Floyd-themed trophies.

You know what Breakout is. You know how it plays. You control a paddle, and you’re tasked with deflecting a ball towards a bunch of bricks that need to be destroyed. Keep doing this until you eventually mess things up and lose. This has been the core gameplay loop since 1976 (yes, Breakout precedes Star Wars), and it’s mostly retained in here. By mostly, I mean that, while featuring the same objective, you have access to a handful of powerups and upgrades just like every other Atari Recharged game. You can get a railgun, slow down time, increase the size of your paddle, and much more.

That sounds interesting, right? Well, the problem is that a crapton of Breakout clones have been released over the past 40 years, and they all featured very similar upgrade styles and other elements that made them stand out from their source of inspiration. Oddly enough, Breakout: Recharged feels more dated than games like Arkanoid, or even Nintendo’s Alleyway, released way back in 1989. Between the lack of modes, uninteresting visuals (the vectors do not fit in well with this gameplay style) and the criminal lack of directional pad support, Breakout: Recharged feels unpolished, just downright undercooked.

Breakout: Recharged Spread

Oh hey, the same spread shot found in every Atari Recharged game is back.

Wiith that being said, there is one silver lining. I have complained a lot about how bland the soundtrack in all of these Recharged games were in the past. That does not apply in this case. For some reason, Breakout: Recharged features the most upbeat soundtrack of all of these titles. Dare I say, it is memorable. The only issue I had with the soundtrack, as well as the sound design as a whole (let’s face it, the game barely has sound effects) is the mixing. Make sure to fly over to the options menu as soon as you boot Breakout: Recharged up for the first time and dial down the volume. The game is ear-piercing loud in its default setting.

Breakout: Recharged Homing

These homing missiles are overkill.

The main problem with Breakout: Recharged is that the block breaking formula has spawned literal hundreds of different games over the past decades, a good chunk of them featuring more gameplay elements and content than this one. Why should I pick this one up instead of a Taito collection featuring Arkanoid or one of the dozens of Breakout clones published by Sometimes You? The only thing going for Breakout: Recharged is the authenticity badge it carries, the fact it is the return of the original block breaker franchise. In no way does this make it better, or even more interesting, than its competitors.

Graphics: 5.5

The Recharged art style occasionally looks great on an Atari retro revival game, but it can also look beyond bland and simplistic depending on the template it’s putting its coat of paint on. This is the case with Breakout: Recharged. It’s not interesting to look at.

Gameplay: 5.0

Not being able to use the directional pad on a brick breaking game is a baffling decision, to the say the least.

Sound: 8.0

Breakout: Recharged might possibly feature the single best soundtrack in any of the Atari Recharged games, even if the sound mixing is ear-piercing levels of loud.

Fun Factor: 5.5

The problem with Breakout: Recharged is that there are dozens upon dozens of Breakout clones that offer exactly what this game has in stock, plus a lot more. It feels beyond simplistic and cheap compared to its clones.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Breakout: Recharged is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, Switch and Atari VCS.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Breakout: Recharged was provided by the publisher.