Impact logo

Audiogenic 0181 424 2244 Not reviewed in AF * £9.99

The disk has 1987 firmly stamped on its plastic. But, we are reliably informed, this is Impact 1995, featuring the original’s 80 levels and a further Ninetiesmunguous 48. That’s 128 levels maths fans.

Look, this is Arkanoid, this is fancy Breakout, this is compelling. Unfortunately, you only get five lives and a password after ever 10 levels. That’s every 10. But fear not, for pick-ups are at hand – collect the tokens and buy some decent kit like the extended bat, the fabulous magnetic mat and even the magic word multiball.

Audiogenic have even been kind enough to include a level designer – screens 81 to 148 only, mind and you can chuck in different coloured bricks and designs. Impact is a bit groggy really; it certainly won’t change the way you see the world and surely there’s many a PD version of Breakout/Arkanoid doing the rounds. Still fun, though.

Impact logo

A bat. And a ball. That bounces. It is a simple premise. And as some clever bloke found out at the dawn of computer gaming, it is really good fun. Simple, yes, but fun in the extreme.

But things do not stay still in the fast moving world of games, oh no. And so a simple bat and ball game gets loads of power-ups, wacky level designs and if you are really lucky even some decent collision detection. In fact, you could say, it is a whole new ball game.

And with this version of the game, called Impact, you get a handy, dandy level designer as well. Allowing you to come up with some silly, simple or downright dangerous levels to add to the 80 already there.

It is all good stuff so far, but there is something not quite right when you get down to playing the game. Some of the levels are downright boring and others are just stupid, but it is not just level design.

Playing just is not enough fun. Everything works fine, even if the mouse control is a little over sensitive, but you always get the sense that when you lose a ball, it was not the fact that you were not in the right place and at right time, but that the game had already decided you were going to lose a life.

Yes, I know that makes me sound like a paranoid madman, but that is the only way I can describe it. It is cheap, playable and intriguing to start with, but eventually becomes slow, repetitive and slightly annoying. But it scores points for the user-friendly level editor.

Impact logo

ASL (Audiogenic)
Price: £24.95

Impact from ASL is a product of the current vogue for dusting down the old classic arcade games, sprucing them up a bit and hoping to gain the nostalgia vote. This particular variant is a version of Break Out, now converted from the Atari ST over to the Amiga. It is a case of directly porting it across, rather than specifically rewriting for the Amiga, and thus looks remarkably similar to the ST version (rather more so than true Amiga games should do).

You would think by now a definitive version of Break Out would have been released - and for those Amiga owners who suspect that might be Arkanoid, bear in mind that Ocean/Imagine is still undecided whether to bring Arkanoid out for the Amiga or whether to concentrate on new titles.

Impact, however, is a very smooth and neat rendition, with some nice additional touches. If there is still anyone out there who does not know the genre: you control a ship, missile base, coloured block - or whatever the plot has decided for this particular version - which you manoeuvre across the bottoms of the screen, bouncing balls/weapons/bombs off its surface to rebound off coloured bricks arranged in patterns in the top half of the screen.

Hit all the blocks so that they disappear and move on to the next screen with a different pattern. Very simple, very playable.

Additional features in Impact include extra falling balls/bombs/swirly things to be caught on your base block for bonuses, plus U-shaped tokens which drop out of the screen. Collect enough of these and you will gain extra powers: more balls to bounce around the screen, extra width to your Base "ship", missiles to fire at the blocks, and so on. There are also some invisible blocks to be located and knocked out before the screens can be completed.

Chief among Impact distinguishing features are the digitised sound and the construction set option. The sound effects were justly praised on the Atari ST version, and they have been ported directly across to the Amiga. The construction set lets you design your own brick arrangement - in addition to the eighty screens contained within the game.

Impact's background scrolling is pretty and the blocks clearly defined, which is no more or less than you would expect on the Amiga, although the graphics are certainly not of the "you will really believe a man can fly" variety. At times the screen gets a bit cluttered - what with the patterned bricks, swirly bonuses, two or three balls juggling around the screen at once, a celestial-type scrolling backdrop, your own missiles and mystery U-shaped tokens falling out all over the place. Sure, it is all part of the game, but trying to decipher which of these whizzing objects is yours is panic inducing.

If you bought your Amiga to play games with graphics that should be in the National Portrait Gallery, stereo sound to wear headphones to, innovative though-provoking gameplay etc, then you won't want to have anything to do with Impact, and the packaging makes not bones about it: "Trapped in a 1970s arcade game" it proudly proclaims on the inlay. Impact should be filed firmly under "golden oldie".