Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure (PS4, PSV) – A Review


co20e3If you had asked me within the past decade, “Do you think the ‘Brick Breaker’ genre could make a comeback?”  I would have dismissively said, “No.” That being said, I definitely made an err in judgement. “Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbol Adventure” by Lillymo Games is simultaneously a wonderful throwback to an era in video games long lost to the annals of time as well as clever modernization of the genre for a new era.

First let us rewind the clock a bit— Brick Breakers are at their core a sub-genre of the 1972, arcade (and early home consoles’) classic, “Pong.”  Four-years later, Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow, would refine the bat-and-ball premise with “Breakout,” which besides having a ball and paddle incorporated bricks to destroy in order to rack-up a high score.  Many years later a game aptly named, “Brick Breaker,” would truly cement the sub-class’s moniker, however, even with its eponymous name it is still deemed a ‘Breakout Clone.’

“Twin Breaker” takes the history and nostalgia of “Breakout” (and others—like 1986’s Arkanoid) and pays loving homage, while also adding in a lacquer of polish to an otherwise archaic mold.  “Twin Breaker” captures the chirpy, chiptunes that always accompanied older games, the (nearly) everlasting pixel art aesthetic, and the arcadey action of “Breakout.” It does so with ease, but if it were to merely clone an arcade title that has been duplicated so many times before, “Twin Breaker” would have been left wanting.  Instead, it brings the genre into a new decade by adding in modern sensibilities.  

Not only does “Twin Breaker” take a tried-and-true genre and bring it to 2020, but it does so with smashing success.

Colin Moriarty, (one of the developers of “Twin Breaker,” owner/founder of Colin’s Last Stand, and co-host to a plethora of podcasts including “Sacred Symbols”) wrote a fantastic, science-fiction narrative to pair with an already solid title.  It is exploratory in its palaver with the audience as it provides humor with more-serious underpinnings and motifs. Conveyed via splash screens and dialogue bubbles between Colin and Chris (the two protagonists of the game), it dissects a very real possibility of Earth’s place in the universe and how humanity’s interactions with one another could aid or hinder the celestial hierarchy without any of us truly knowing.  

Pretty weighty stuff, eh?  Don’t be too alarmed by the story.  It isn’t unnecessarily filled with jargon or high end philosophical stances; it merely expresses these issues as a framework, while the more tongue-in-cheek humor in the dialogue fleshes out the rest of the story.  That being said, if you wanted to dive headlong into the lore of this universe, there are codexes to unlock that further the player’s understanding of the world that they are experiencing. Playing a Brick Breaker that includes a narrative is rare and perhaps unheard of— The story and dialogue do not feel needlessly tacked onto an already decent ”Breakout” clone.  The story uplifts and fits snugly within the gameplay and vice-a-versa.

In addition to the inclusion of a narrative, “Twin Breaker” also works in innovative gameplay mechanics that keeps the pacing and moment-to-moment action thrilling and incredibly viable.  Every ten levels (in the 40 level campaign) features a unique boss battle, which work masterfully in the game’s pacing of difficulty. Halfway through “Twin Breaker,” two pairs of paddles are introduced, resulting in my favorite line of the game delivered by Colin’s “Sacred Symbol’s” podcast co-host, Chris, “This should make things a little easier.” (F.Y.I. It doesn’t).  However, this gameplay addition provides more difficulty and increases tension, which ultimately applies a nice little twist to the level designs that implement this feature. 

4-Paddles

In addition to the narrative, bosses, and refreshing nature of the game mechanics, this $9.99 digital package also includes several different gameplay modes which include: Marathon, Pong, Random, Shooter, Catcher, and Boss Rush modes.  You can check out how all of these modes function by watching our ASInquisitor Twitch stream VOD, which has been edited and uploaded to YouTube by clicking the link here: Let’s Play – Twin Breakers: A Sacred Symbols Adventure

“Twin Breaker” is a steal at $9.99 on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita (after all “Sacred Symbols” is in reference to Sony’s famous iconography emblazoned across their controllers), but that ten-dollar purchase will net you both copies because it is a cross-buy transaction.  Now onto the trophies: There are technically two separate trophy lists depending on which copy of the game you play, so even though each individual trophy is identical to its counterpart, you have the opportunity to achieve two platinum trophies. As a PS4 and Vita owner, I found this to be particularly enticing.  Personally, I find the trophy list to be fair, but still challenging. It will take you approximately three-hours to complete the campaign and perhaps 7-to-9 hours in total to achieve that coveted platinum trophy.

I highly recommend “Twin Breaker,” especially if you grew-up with arcades and classic home consoles.  It scratches a particular itch that not a lot of other games can reach. In our first ever review score for ASInquisitor, my lovely “Rage Quit” podcast co-host, Ariel, and I give it 4.5 ‘Polar Bear Paws’ out of 5. 

“Twin Breaker” gleefully harkens back to a golden era of arcades and Ataris with just the right amount of modernity.

Longboarding in Spokane, WA


Photography by Celeste Sievers

As are most of my summers, 2012’s season of heat has been filled with numerous ups and downs, as well as several life altering events.  However, even with the tumultuous ebb and flow of life, I did stick to one of my summer goals: I finally learned to longboard.

Photography by Celeste Sievers

I am fairly athletic person.  I am about six-feet tall, and incredibly lean.  My metabolism is incredibly fast-paced (even at twenty-three), and my buck-forty frame has been pretty-well locked in for the past five-years or so.  I tend to be very coordinated and quick, compared to most people; this is most likely due to my slender frame and years of throwing freight as a grocer.

Essentially, I wanted to enjoy the summer weather with my friends, and longboarding became that means.  I enjoy being outside; my girlfriend (Celeste) and I go hiking every now and again, but on the whole I’m generally an inside guy—hermit-like really.  I do a lot of reading and writing, and my primary occupation has me usually working indoors at a local Fred Meyer for eight+ hours at a stretch.

Although, some part of me has  always been interested in skateboarding, and by extension longboarding, but I never really had that push to actually try it out until recently.  I am the type of person to dive head first into a new project or activity, and this coupled with the fact that I have quite a few friends who just recently started longboarding again, I did exactly that—dived head first…with no regrets.  Longboarding is a sport that seems to have really come back in the Spokane area in recent years, so with all of these things in mind I found myself finally giving it a go.

Photography by Celeste Sievers

I went out with my friend, John ‘A1 Sauce’ McDonell, to our local “Big 5” and bought myself a relatively cheap (approximately $79.99 with tax) “Golden Beach” 46’ pin tailed longboard (featured left).  It is a tad on the long side (there are longer though!), but because I was first starting out I wanted a board more built for cruising and stability, rather than tricks.

After practicing quite a bit, I have really gotten into it.  I live in the historic Browne’s Addition of Spokane, WA, and because of the age of the district there are some spectacular hills and stretches to skate on and down.  I’ve actually got so into the sport, that I’m finally brazen enough to try and start learning how to do some basic slides and manuals with my board.  My friend, John, and I decided to buy sliding gloves and begin practicing.  For those of you who don’t know (because hell…I sure didn’t know until a couple months ago!) sliding gloves are essentially a pair of utility gloves with plastic pieces (called pucks) attached to the glove via Velcro.  Some gloves just have pucks for the palms, but others have pieces for the fingertips and thumb, as well as the palm.

Photography by Celeste Sievers

I ended up picking up a pair of Loaded sliding gloves from “The Mountain Goat” on Sprague in downtown Spokane (featured right).  They ran me $54.99, but what is nice about the Loaded gloves is that they have pucks for the fingers and thumb, instead of just the palm.  My buddy John picked up his gloves from a “Zumiez” for $39.99, but because it only has the palm puck the fingertips are already shredding after only a couple weeks of use.

(As an aside, John and I are planning on trying to make our own sliding gloves, and we’ll probably post a tutorial on YouTube—I’ll link here if it comes to fruition)

We’ve slowly been perfecting the Coleman Slide and the Front Slide for the past several weeks, and save for one serious wipeout, it has been phenomenal.  I would highly recommend it.  It is fun to cruise and chat without really having a care in the world.  It sheds me of my responsibilities for a brief moment, and in the moment I’ve been able strengthen my friendships—what’s to complain about?

If you have the interest and the ambition this is most-definitely a sport that doesn’t cost much right off the bat, and if you really enjoy it you can always improve on your equipment.  There are a million different styles of boards and gear for body shape and type of enthusiast.

I’ll post videos and pictures as they become available.  My friend and I aren’t terribly good, but we do like to snap a picture or two of our desperate plans to be better, and I’d love to share them with everyone.

What are your summer sports?  Do you live in area that promotes the outdoors, or do you have to go out of your way to find it?

Magazine review: CLiNT #2.1


CLiNT magazine is created and edited by Mark Millar, and in a revamp beginning in issue #2.1 the team behind CLiNTaims to provide even more swashbuckling content in the form of a contemporarily designed magazine that gives readers a wonderful glimpse into the world of avant garde comics and films.

The issue’s cover is wonderfully rendered by Leinil Yu with inks by Gerry Alanguilan and colors by Sunny Gho, and showcases the heist-themed caper, Supercrooks.  Mark Millar provides an amusing introduction before the issue segues into a pair of interviews featuring Millar’s thoughts upon the origins of Supercrooks and its film adaptation, as well as “a project close to his heart,” American Jesus.

CLiNT does an amazing job of transitioning between traditional editorials and interviews to comics, creating a seamless package that provides a ton of interesting material for low consumer cost.  After discussing the ins-and-outs of the Supercrooks film several pages are devoted to the comic itself.

Created by Mark Millar and penciler Leinil Yu Supercrooks is an enjoyable ride through-and-through.  It blends the best parts of the Italian Job with comic books, and any comic that takes to amalgamating a heist film with the awesomeness of comic books is A-ok in my book.  And, besides extrapolating on a stellar premise, the execution is amazing.  Supercrooksbegins like any good bank robbery movie by introducing most of the team members and bringing them ‘back’ together to fight for a joint cause; the twist though: they’re all supervillains.  The art was excellent and the plot grabbed me immediately—I can’t wait for more!

Next up Rex Royd!

Frankie Boyle first recaps Rex’s crazy universe before handing the baton off to Mike Dowling to discuss his work on penciling Rex’s life and world.  In all honestly I’m not sure I quite understood Rex Royd, his Rexcorp, and enemy,Proteoman; however, that being said, I did enjoy the surrealism of the comic, and the artwork was fluid, diverse, and situationally realistic.

CLiNT then pays homage to 20-years of Lenore by providing a brief expose and a Lenore strip.  Described by the Los Angeles Times as “an unholy union between Tim Burton and Dr. Seuss,” Lenore is a jaunt into the bizarre—but of course, laced with humor.

CLiNT #2.1 begins to close out by introducing readers toSecret Service (Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons, Matthew Vaughn), a quirky James Bond-esque comic that had me almost in tears due to its hilarious opening.  Mark Hamil being kidnapped in some sort of mass science fiction, pop culture abduction is just the tip of the wonderful plot offered within the pages of Secret Service.

Rounding out the issue is Death Sentence (Monty NeroMike Dowling), which is an interesting take on the anti-hero genre.  Basically, a tortured pop-artist becomes infected with a virus dubbed the G+ Virus.  The virus provides a ‘death sentence’ for the victim, but grants him superpowers as he slowly dies.  Intriguing indeed, and definitely a great way to wrap CLiNT’sstellar reboot!

CLiNT #2.1 is my first foray into the spectacularity of theCLiNT-a-verse, but based upon first impressions I will most definitely be picking up a subscription. $6.99 (£4.25) for a 100-pages of innovative content, that delves into upcoming films, indie comics, and one-on-one chats with some of the movers and shakers of the industry—how could you go wrong?  Arguably the best comic book magazine out there.

You can also help support CLiNT by clicking here to ‘Vote CLiNT’ viral on YouTube (video also attached to the left-hand side this article), or subscribe to any one of their social networking channels via Facebook and/or Twitter.

I would highly recommend subscribing to CLiNT through their website or special offer, which is featured below; it is a tremendous value for the content and they are currently running a special promotion if you sign up today, so hop onboard today—you will not be disappointed.
Special Offer: Subscribe to CLiNT and Save 20%, plus get a FREE signed Dave Gibbons ‘The Secret Service’ Art Card! Act now, only 200 available! To find out more visit – http://titanmagazines.com/t/clint/local-subscribe/
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