Thanks to NAMI TENTOU for the review code
System: Wii U (eShop)
Release Date: 10/06/2016
Neon lights are everywhere in this breakout clone, from the paddles, the enemies and the prisms you must break to clear each level. It looks decent overall, but I can’t help but feel it’s a bit too dependent on black backgrounds, causing every level to look similar to each other regardless of how many prisms are on screen. One compliment I will give to the game in this regard is the fact that some of the premade levels are shaped after objects like snowflakes and mazes, showing that at least some care was put into the design of a couple of stages.
Music and Sound
The music on the other hand is downright awful. A generic techno theme that loops on end combined with sound effects that sound like squeaking noises leads to a game that will drive your ears insane after a while, though thankfully you can easily turn off both in the settings.
Breakout clones are quite hard to screw up. Either they do something unique and fun with the formula or play it safe, with the major threat being a game’s lasting appeal. PSIBO falls victim to this by focusing way too much on making the difficulty as insane as it can be without having it be much fun at all.
In PSIBO the controls are simple; You move left to right using the left analog stick, shoot your balls with the buttons and use them to break the prisms scattered around each stage. Unlike typical breakout clones, you can shoot more than one ball at once, sometimes up to crazy amounts if the stage allows for it, although this is not recommended due to the fact that if you miss a ball you will either lose a life right away, or prompt an enemy spawner to create a persistent green ship that will shoot at you relentlessly. Therefore, mashing the button to spawn dozens of balls will lead to you getting absolutely destroyed even if you think you’re skilled at dodging. There is zero mercy from these enemy ships, and in some stages you even have an enemy paddle to deal with on top of the ships and stage layouts.
While this sounds like an interesting way for the concept to be fresh while frantic, PSIBO suffers from a few major problems, one of which being that there’s no indication on whether you clear a stage. That’s right, there are zero indicators to whether you already cleared a stage from the stage select or not. I cleared stage 1 from the stage select for instance only to have it look unchanged on the stage selection menu, making me feel like there was zero point to even try and complete these stages.
Another problem comes from the score attack mode, which the game treats as the main attraction. In this mode you have a ton of options at your disposal to customize the difficulty, whether by giving yourself an overpowered ship while also making the enemies super weak, or by making it literally impossible to break a single prism. (No seriously, there’s actually a preset difficulty mode called impossible where the prisms have an insane amount of health combined with the fact that there are dozens of them to break, tons of enemy ships that can spawn if you mess up AND a relentless paddle that will almost always block your ball.) Thankfully the game does save high scores, and changing the difficulty to make it harder will give you a high multiplier.
It’s with this score attack mode that we also come to the major issue of this game, the performance. You see, in the score attack clearing rows of prisms will cause a new row to appear from the top of the screen, making the game endless in order for you to rack up those points. What this also does is make it so that way if you end up clearing the top rows first before finally hitting that one prism you can’t get rid of, the game spawns a ton of rows at once and drops into single digit framerates for a good few seconds, slowing the pacing down tremendously and breaking any focus you might have had. It’s jarring, it’s annoying and downright inexcusable for a game like this. That combined with the fact that the game also drops in framerate from too many shots on screen and you have a game that suffers from performance issues from the most basic of things.
In conclusion, PSIBO is a bit of a mess. The music is atrocious and the original levels offer little reason to complete them, but there’s also a decent score attack game to be found here with a lot of customization options. It’s just also a shame that the game suffers from too many performance issues to recommend, especially considering how often they can occur. Still, for the $5 price tag this isn’t a game that’ll murder your wallet, and if it goes on sale then it’s a bit easier to recommend, especially if they end up patching out the performance issues. I give PSIBO a 4 out of 10, and can only recommend it to the most hardcore of breakout fans until the performance issues are fixed, if they ever are.