Powball is a one or two player Breakout clone.
Things look pretty bleak for mankind in the 25th century. Government control is beginning to crumble under pressure to feed the planets 40 billion inhabitants on a world where resources ate running out. There are savage wars over the resources that remain and the air reeks of death, disease & decay. The good news is that science has discovered a new kind of crystal, Alchemite, that can be refined into any substance known to man. The player takes on the role of a would be rockhopper, a person who mines the remains of nearby systems for this material.
Each player has a paddle which moves left / right. The players also have three lives, each life being represented by a ball that rests on their paddle. On the screen are bricks, arranged differently on each level. Some bricks are unbreakable, some break immediately, others after two or more strikes with the ball. The player must fire their ball at the bricks and, when it bounces back, the player must position their paddle to catch their ball causing it to bounce up towards the bricks again. Failure to catch a ball costs a life.
When a brick breaks it scores points and sometimes scatters small blue crystals or paddle power-ups. Each brick destroyed and each crystal caught increases the players score. The objective is to score as many points as possible by clearing all the bricks in a level, collecting the crystals they release in the process, before progressing to the next level.
In a two player mode each player's paddle and ball are a different colour.
The game installs in both English and German.
The shareware game consists of ten levels and the full game has over one hundred.
Powball is one of the best Breakout clones I have ever seen, freeware or otherwise. The game introduces a lot of fun elements to the paddle-and-ball formula, including a simultaneous 2 player mode, silky-smooth graphics that boasts over 2000 frames of animation, great sound effects, over 130 game levels, and a cool level editor.
Gameplay is simple: bounce the ball on your paddle to explode the blocks to unleash gems, bombs and power-ups. Clear the screen to go to the next level up. Between levels, the game switches to a cool vertical shooter mini-game where you have to quick shoot rocks that fall from the sky to get bonus items. In addition to the challenge of keeping the ball afloat, you have to contend with other obstacles, such as enemy floaters that try to interrupt your winning streak. The power-up items are very neat - my favorite is the Super Powball that crashes through and exploding the blocks in its path.
The best new feature in Powball is the fact that you can buy some weapons and ammo in weapon shops with money from the crystals you have collected. Weapons include plasma gun, vulcan cannon, and even a grenade launcher that help dispose annoying floaters. The two-player mode is a lot of fun, and you can change difficulty level in single-player mode. The action is intense most of the time - before long, you will see dozens of balls on the screen, blue gems raining down everywhere around you, and loud, gigantic explosions of blocks in powball's path. That's when you will realize you are having fun, and that you will come back for more knuckle-blistering mayhem ;) Originally released as a shareware game published by WebFoot Technologies, Powball was made freeware in 2000, so there is really no excuse not to try this hugely underrated gem.
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