Radial 50

Radial 50

What we liked:

+ Great style
+ 360 degrees of gameplay
+ Fluid controls
+ Addictive app with arcade heft

What we didn't like:

- No level select will frustrate some
- Little too challenging to keep your eye on the ball

DEVELOPER: Roundthird   |   PUBLISHER: Roundthird   |   RELEASE: 07/07/2009

You make me wanna Breakout.

Radial 50 offers fifty levels of brick-busting à la Atari’s “Breakout” – with a spin. The objective on each of the game’s fifty – yes, radial – levels is to break through the layers of brick-like targets and ultimately strike a diamond at the center to advance to the next round. From the menu you can quickly access a new game, the leader boards, see achievements, your profile, tamper with game settings and peer pressure friends into trying to top your score with a “share” invite. After I set the game to lefty power I was introduced to the controls: use your thumb to move the paddle around the radial board. While the game recommends your thumb to control the paddle, my pro-tip is to try it with your index finger – nimbleness is key. There is a natural inclination to focus on the center of the screen, but once you overcome the impulse to move laterally you appreciate how fluid the control system is.

Unlike other brick-breakers, you do not have to eliminate all the targets on the board. A number of the levels do have the diamond target “locked” until half of the targets are destroyed. Once unlocked, defense targets appear, multiply, and you must reach the diamond before these defense targets expand to the board’s edge. With each brick blasted particles come spinning off like ninja stars. Collecting these particles with your paddle leads to score bonuses, as does finishing a level in less than 35 seconds.

Collecting particles while not strictly necessary, gives you an added objective while the ball is pinballing around and every fifth round offers big points payoff. Certain bricks are power-ups or power-downs, changing the game by reducing or enlarging the paddle, causing a temporary blackout, or creating a shield. The rounds don’t necessarily get harder as you go along – each presents the same survival oriented challenge – but there are more challenging power-downs as you progress. The other, perhaps less intentional, challenge is in the ball itself: it takes superhuman skill to discern the small ball in a flurry of exploding particles.

Health is tracked in a meter on the right center radiating from game board. Letting the ball strike the perimeter reduces health which can be regained over time as you play. It is fortunate the health system is forgiving because once you run out completely and lose the level, it is game over and with no level select feature you are back to square one. I respect even if I don’t revel in this sort of allegiance to arcade style brutality. In deference to our more modern attention span, you can pause at any point and even save and exit to return to the game later.

Your score is displayed in lower right along with power-ups/downs and any multipliers. Between levels a scoreboard breaks down the particle points, event points, level points total, game total as well as the current high score. Radial 50 has competition at its core. The menu screen will proudly display your score, and that has nothing on being listed on the leader boards which are location-based. High scores are viewable for your city and your state as well as region, country and the whole darn planet earth (congrats to the guy with the number one score in Malaysia?).

If that’s not enough bragging you can post your score to Twitter of Facebook. The twenty achievements are not centered around your score and instead focus on things like clearing five levels with perfect health, or collecting 150 particles. Continuing the game’s sense of community are percentages under each achievement indicating the number of players that have completed that particular feat.

Each level has its own motif and background, music and title with the sharp artwork created by Pop Media. It is a really good-looking game, and paired well with a diverse techno soundtrack. It’s another example of the aesthetic virtue of simple, clean design. Adding a layer of whimsy are the level titles, which include things like “Bullet Proof Bully” and “Fear the Golden Gun”, and are inspired by older games. While figuring out the references is fun it has no bearing on the game, which seems like a wasted opportunity.

You can check out the Lite version and a handful of levels for free, and for $1.99 you can tackle all fifty. If you are the sort that goes for incentives, the first fifty players to complete all fifty levels will win a prize. Forty players will score an iTunes gift card, and 10 players with the highest scores to complete the fiftieth level will each receive a gift card for Fathead wall graphics.

Radial 50 is a creative take on a familiar concept with smooth controls and addictive gameplay. Skill and strategy combine to tackle the sort of compelling, fast-paced gameplay you want for your mobile in a nimble game that delivers what feels like a hefty arcade experience.

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