Ball Raider logo

Diamond Games
Price: £9.95/disk

The year is 2488, Ball Raider is the ultimate challenge for the "Guild of Warriors", it says on the packaging. I have news for Diamond Games: it was also the ultimate challenge for a lot of arcade visitors fourteen years ago. For Ball Raider turns out to be nothing more or less than that hardly perennial BreakOut in one of its many disguises.

There's a lot of BreakOut about on the Amiga thse days. First there was Impact, then Arkanoid appeared, courtesy of Discovery Software, and now we have Ball Raider.

Ball Raider doesn't have a great deal to commend it over the others. A bit on graphics, with the use of background stills to the playing area depicting sci-fi style tableaux of alien-crushing and galactic exploration. Then the high score table is produced by a muscle-bound Greek God type, who grinds his teeth and flashed his eyes as the high scores fade in and out in fetching dark blue. Or, for some reason, in red if you keep the fire button pressed.

You might want to keep the fire button pressed as well because you are irritatingly forced to enter your name after every single game, and view the high scores, whether you make it to the table or not, and holding on to Fire speeds through it as quickly as possible.

As for the gameplay, well, it's BreakOut over 25 screens. Sometimes the ball goes fast, sometimes it goes slow, sometimes you get an extra life, sometimes an interesting grey vertical stripe appears on the right hand side of the screen and obliterates the score and lives left table. I haven't seen this feature in BreakOut before, and I suspect Diamond Games missed it when they were bug-hunting as well. Other stripes also appear on screen from time to time and although they don't interfere with gameplay, they are of equal curiosity value.

The sound effects amount to clunks for hitting the bricks and whooshes for bouncing them off your bat. These are in addition to the background music, which although not objectionable, is extremely repetitive.

Ball Raider doesn't have anything like the number of extra features which made Impact and Arkanoid such interesting variants on a very old game format. For die-hard BreakOut collectors only.

Ball Raider logo

King Size, £9.95 disk, joystick only

It's the year 2488 and the ultimate test for any would-be member of the Guild of Warriors is Ball Raider. Joining this elite group requires that the player clears 25 levels of brick formations by co-ordination of bat and ball, in true Breakout fashion.

As is the norm with games of this genre, beaten bricks often yield special power which affect gameplay, such as Slow Ball, Fast Ball, Stop Ball (which allows the player to hold the ball on the bat and then release it elsewhere), Free Ball (effectively an extra life) and Magic Field (to leave the current screen without having to destroy the last brick).

Gordon Houghton The graphic presentation of Ball Raider is superb, from the atmospheric title screens to the beautiful game backdrops. Unfortunately, this innovative structure is marred by the extremely repetitive and tedious gameplay. The bat is unspectacular and the destructible blocks so simplistic, arranged in patterns so uninspired it soon becomes a chore to clear them. The ball ricochet off the bat is appallingly unsophisticated, resulting in poor control over the direction of movement. Skill is eliminated in favour of luck and patience. Apart from the extremely pretty background graphics, there is little inter-screen variety, and even these can become annoying when they detract from the ball movement.
The well-produced disco-beat soundtrack is appealing at first, with its subtly throbbing drum beat and sharp, synthesised swishes and echoes. After a while, however, this too becomes annoying: it does not really suit the gameplay. Ball Raider does little to further the cause of the Breakout format.
Julian Rignall The backdrops are certainly appealing, but unfortunately the gameplay just does not match. The bat is quite responsive, but the ball always bounces off at the same angle, often making the last few bricks very difficult to hit. In this case it is patience, rather than skill that is the key to success. One thing that really does cheese me off - and it is not just with this game - is the use of a single short sampled tune, which is looped time and time again to form a soundtrack. Why can't programmers take advantage of the Amiga's amazing sound chip and produce a proper tune - like we hear on the '64! I would recommend Breakout fans to wait for Arkanoid.
Paul Glancey If Ball Raider's gameplay matched its superb fantasy pixel-painting backdrops it would be a fabulous game, but as it is, it is the most simplistic of the new breed of Arkanoid clones that I have seen. The blocks are arranged in the same unimaginative pattern for each screen, and the ball reflection is limited to 45 degrees. Sound is used minimally, with weedy digitised effects and a rather irritating piece of music creating an inappropriate ambience. The 'special effects' add very little to the fun, bringing the game very close to the level of the original Breakout, which, although mildly playable and addictive, has since been surpassed by the imagination and variation shown in games such as Batty and Traz. I have grown to expect a lot more, especially from a machine with almost limitless scope.