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Trailer Review: Wizorb

By / Posted on 15 June 2011

WizorbWith this year’s E3 convention fresh in our collective memories, we’ve all seen more than our fill of gritty, quasi-realistic first-person shooters in war-torn urban environments (a niche that is rapidly approaching 90% of mainstream gaming). Remember when videogames were magical? When they could transport us to another time, place, and reality instead of the same old grey noise again and again?

Jonathan Levigne does. The Montreal-based game developer who most recently released the 8-bit Mega-Man-meets-Ninja-Gaiden indie game Ninja Senki just released the trailer for his new project, Wizorb, a game that combines the classic arcade play of Breakout (a.k.a. Alleyway, Arkanoid, that game with the paddle and all the bricks) with a romantic fantasy setting involving monsters, magic, and maybe even a princess or two:

If the animation looks particularly fluid and delightful, that’s because Jonathan brought his old collaborator Paul Robertson onboard (the two had previously worked together on TMNT for Gameboy Advance and last summer’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game).

What is there about this trailer not to love? Everyone knows how to play Breakout, so there’s no barrier of entry, and just look at all the enemy types: furry cat creatures, slime balls, armored knights, some kind of magical ghost-things… all in wonderfully rendered and atmosphere-specific environments, from grassy fields to underground dungeons and beyond. The sweet destruction animations and well-implemented color palette make Wizorb look like a late-era NES game (a la Mega Man 6, Startropics 2 and Wario’s Woods) even though it’s probably closer to a Sega Genesis or Turbo-Grafix 16 game in terms of processing. There are clearly upgradable ball types, overworlds for questing and adventuring, boss battles, RPG elements, and so much more going on in this game of paddle-and-ball.

Wizorb should be hitting PC and XBox Live Arcade in the not-too-distant future. Keep an eye on Jonathan’s website for updates.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.