At its most basic, BreakQuest is a Breakout clone, which is to say, the player controls a paddle and uses it to bounce a ball around he screen in order to break blocks at the top of the screen. It's a simple idea that's been re-done many times since the early days of videogaming. What makes BreakQuest interesting is its addition of more realistic physics to the essential formula.
Date: October 2009 (Europe), March 2010 (North America)
Format: PS Mini
Rating: ESRB E (Everyone - Alcohol Reference), PEGI 3+
The Same, But Better
While the PS Minis version of BreakQuest doesn't add a whole lot over the 2004 PC game aside from analog stick control (you can also use the d-pad, but it's not as fast), it's a very good translation of the original game to a portable format (or not, if you choose to play on your PS3 instead of your PSP). And what BreakQuest has over other Breakout clones is much more variety of gameplay, thanks to the addition of more realistic physics and a responsive environment.
The game has two modes: Arcade, which has random levels, and Quest, which takes you though the game's 100 levels in order. Each mode also has several difficulty settings: three for Quest mode, and an extra five in Arcade mode that change the difficulty by changing the parameters (no bumpers, bigger balls, etc). Gameplay is as simple as can be: use the d-pad or the analog stick to move the spaceship-shaped paddle in order to bounce a ball up into the blocks and break them. But of course, it's never as simple as that. Breaking blocks will often release power-ups (or power-downs!) which change your abilities, and you'll have nine different weapons to use.
Such a simple game could easily become tedious, but BreakQuest boasts some nice retro-style art, and every level is done in a different style. The music's pretty good, too, and your block-breaking can even effect the music Lumines-style (though not to the same extent).
Alas, there is one area in which the translation to PSP is less than ideal, and it's an issue that has affected many games, and that's the controls. While they're super-simple--use the analog stick or the d-pad to move side-to-side--they're not perfect. The d-pad offers greater precision when moving, but is often too slow to get you to a fast-moving ball in time. The analog stick will give you much greater speed so those fastballs can't get away, but it lacks precision, which can be quite frustrating. Switching between the two might seem like a solution, but the game is too fast-moving for that the work. Beatshapers did make an effort to address this issue--much to their credit--by allowing the player to adjust the sensitivity of the controls. It may take some tweaking to get the sensitivity to your satisfaction, but it's worth the effort as it reduces the control issues from a pretty big problem to a relatively minor annoyance.
One other issue I noticed is that the first level seems disproportionally difficult. In a way, that's a good thing, because it means the later levels will seem much more manageable. On the other hand, less determined players may never make it past the first level and turn instead to a game with a smoother difficulty curve, and that would be too bad.