Ricochet: Lost Worlds Review
Developer: Reflexive Entertainment
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM Ricochet: Lost Worlds refines the basic paddle and ball game of brick destruction, adding fun power-ups and levels emulating classic games. For the price, this Arkanoid-style game is a lot of game and a lot of fun.
Ricochet: Lost Worlds (Ricochet: LW) is a game of greed. Like all Brickout-style, souped-up paddle-and-ball games Arkanoid, Ricochet: LW tempts you to stray from your task of annihilating basic blocks and spheres with juicy enhancements like a homing Stinger Missile Launcher you can strap to the sides of your basic paddle. The paddle itself is upscale, in the form of a sleek, shield-bearing ship. Even at high speeds, while trying to navigate the clever and complex puzzles designed by the Reflexive team, it's rarely difficult to bounce the Ion Sphere (ball) repeatedly into the upper reaches of the screen. But you're tempted to spend an extra second grabbing the power-up that transforms your basic Sphere into a laser-beam-blasting, purple sphere of death – and by succumbing to the temptation, you miss volleying the Sphere back into the play field. Ricochet: LW is filled with temptation, and on top of its sleek graphics and clever puzzles, that's what makes the game so enthralling.
Reflexive already released a similar game, called Ricochet (its latest incarnation is Ricochet Extreme), but Ricochet: LW is not just more of the same. It's yet more quality play with slightly different building blocks. The fundamental paddle-and-ball format is still there, but the new title boasts different graphical themes and animated backgrounds, new bricks and new power-ups. (Some of the bricks and power-ups from the first game (like the Fire Ball) aren't in the latest version.) Most of all, Ricochet: LW shows particularly creative level design – the kind of polish that can only come with the experience of designing myriad levels for the original game.
By the way, power-ups aren't the only aspects of the game to exploit your avarice. Every level has five gold rings. Grab thirty-five rings and you get an extra Ion Sphere. Grab all five rings on a level and you get a bonus of five rings. The temptation to grab that last ring is so great you will inevitably lose more balls than you gain from the bonus. The levels are cleverly designed to further taunt you with glimpses of the gold rings that move in and out of view, and sometimes require solving complex puzzles for access.
At first, you'll start with basic Brickout-style levels, in which rectangular bricks hover near the top of the screen, awaiting destruction. Soon, you find yourself rotating through four themes of levels (Sunken City, Volcanic Crust, Mayan Temple and Alien Tech) with every ten levels you complete. Very quickly, you'll face complex animations in which sets of blocks move rapidly around the screen, forcing you to take a more analytical approach to your cycle of block destruction. The Alien Tech levels have rounded spheres instead of bricks, and the ball will bounce through the level in unpredictable ways as it rapidly careens off curved surfaces.
With 160 levels, you can cycle through the themes quite a few times, and more advanced levels get particularly creative. Some levels require you to free a starfish (attached to a brick), and take him home. Destroy the brick to which the starfish is latched on, and it will grab the Ion Sphere until he reaches his home block. Many levels are clear pictures or puzzles, but the developers decided to show off by including many levels that evoke early, coin-op arcade games. One level uses special bricks in conjunction with falling bricks to simulate the classic Missile Command game. Other levels are inspired by Galaga, Star Castle, Donkey Kong and Centipede.
With so many quality PC titles, and especially, heavily discounted top titles from the recent past, it's rare to find a downloadable title that's worth the usual price of just under $20. Ricochet: LW is one such game. It's perfectly designed for the casual player – each individual level takes a few seconds to a few minutes, and even if you are on fire, you can suspend the game and resume play on the same level at a later time. The game also supports user-created content, so if Ricochet is any indication, there will be plenty of additional levels for Ricochet: LW, which can be easily plugged into the existing game.