We’ve been keeping tabs on Tribute Game’s Wizorb [$2.99] ever since we got wind that the indie puzzler would be making the transition from console to iOS (we even posted a TA Plays of it recently). Now that we’ve had some time to experience the break-breaker, it’s clear that Wizorb is nearly as enjoyable on the touch screen as it was with a controller. In fact, other than some general control issues Wizorb is well recommended and an excellent homage to both classic RPGs and arcade titles alike.

Players take control of the wizard Cyrus as he’s charged with protecting the Kingdom of Gorudo from an evil manifestation that is turning people into monsters. In order to save the kingdom, Cyrus will have to journey to a variety of locations and take down bosses while earning money on the side to restore the destroyed town of Tarot to its former glory. As far as content is concerned, Wizorb offers plenty of levels while achievements and high score tracking keep the more competitive gamers occupied.

Areas are divided into rooms that pit Cyrus against hordes of evil blocks with the occasional moving enemy. His primary means of attack? The ancient art of wizorb that transforms him into ball complete with paddle. As you can imagine, this is where the brick-breaking gameplay comes in, with a style of play reminiscent of Arkanoid which itself was a take on the classic Breakout series. With its single-screen gameplay, power-ups (as well as curses) and spells, Wizorb does a great job taking the best elements of break-breakers while infusing the gameplay with its own flair.

Of course, Wizorb is a more than just a simple Breakout clone. Cyrus is free to explore the town of Tarot between dungeon runs. While the town is in shambles at the onset, players are given the option of donating gold to the various citizens, rebuilding their houses and getting items in return. Eventually, you can even build a shop that allows you to outfit Cyrus with various power-ups before you even set foot in a dungeon.

While town exploration isn’t going to drastically change Wizorb, it’s nice that there’s more to the game than just the break-breaking gameplay. In addition to the above, Wizorb also features various difficulties as well as separate save slots for multiple users. Unfortunately, iCloud support is lacking, which is always a disappointment with universal titles.

Meanwhile, Wizorb’s visuals and music are set to a familiar (and nostalgic) style mimicking the 8-bit RPGs of yore. Obviously, as a brick-breaker visuals don’t necessarily make or break the rest of the game. However, Wizorb goes above and beyond the presentation found in most other similar titles to actually paint a pixelated world that tells a tale and keeps you coming back to clear each new dungeon discovered. One annoyance is the appearance of a perpetual black bar at the bottom of the screen during gameplay but it’s hardly a distraction.

Seeing as how Wizorb initially debuted on Xbox Live, one of my chief concerns for the iOS port was how well the controls would be translated. While the game’s touch-based controls work well enough to play, there is still some room for improvement. Paddle movement is controlled via sliding a finger across the screen while virtual buttons control Cyrus’s magic spells. Despite having some sensitivity options, the paddle controls just aren’t smooth enough for my liking. I had numerous occasions of the game not picking up my touch or not registering my swipes fast enough. In addition, menu selections (especially in the options) are unnecessarily tough. As silly as it seems, a virtual d-pad would probably work better than some of the touch controls.

Wizorb’s control issues may sound dire, but in reality they’re more annoying than game-breaking. Outside of that shortfall, Wizorb is an excellent puzzle title that does a great job integrating a classic brick-breaking experience with a fantastical 8-bit world. While the gameplay is simple, I feel Wizorb is one of those games where the sum is greater than its parts. As a throwback to classic RPGs and Breakout gameplay, Wizorb is well worth the price and should be checked out.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • 1Fcm

    The controls are the main reason I couldn't continue playing this on iPad. I'm hoping for an update that will make a much needed improvement. I just can't concentrate on having fun when I'm constantly fighting the controls. A game like this should have controls that feel second nature and intuitive.

    • Krautboy

      They said they are working on the controls. D pad for town movement and adjustable a/b buttons so you can place 'm anywhere you want.
      If that's implemented i agree with 4 stars. I'm holding off playing until that update hits.

      • paulf58

        Shouldn't a review be based on what an app is versus what it will become?

      • Krautboy

        Yes. I thought the word "if" implied that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bertrand-Borderie/752088192 Bertrand Borderie

    Hey guys, I am no pro but I saw the video of you playing this game (same case with lots of other games). You sounded kinda not liking it, at least you mostly talked about its flaws more than it's qualities.

    Yet, again, you give the game a great grade 0_o

    • JCman7

      That was Brad and Eli in the video. Eric has his own opinion obviously

  • http://www.facebook.com/donald.ronald.754 Donald Ronald

    4 stars for a game with some of the most horrid controls ever and unplayable on ipad. Erm, makes sense I guess. Lazy port is lazy. If they fix it great, but it's broken atm.

    • mreford

      That's a shame that the controls aren't working for you, but honestly I didn't consider them "game breaking" -- I'd leave that classification for something that literally prevents me from progressing/enjoying. For me at least, that didn't apply.

      However to each their own.

    • http://twitter.com/Rage_boi Vince

      It really looks interesting.. but complains about the controls on the ipad will probably mean that I will grab the pc version for the same price

  • JCman7

    When this goes on sale I will buy it $2.99 for a bad controlled game is a bit high for App Store standards, does look fun though

  • Doctor Mario

    Touch Arcade hands out 4-star and 5-star reviews like failing has gone out of style. With due respect to the opinions of this reviewer, WizOrb is very short on gameplay and very long on "we love indies!!" I'm sorry, I love indies too, but only the ones worth my time. WizOrb isn't one of those titles unless you are a real die-hard Breakout aficionado who wants every clone in his collection.

  • Remote_

    Controls, controls, controls...

    Grand game, lovely style, massively let down by, in particular, the iPad controls at the minute.

    Update coming, you say? Good job too or I'd have almost given up on it.

    Weirdly, it's nowhere near as bad on the iPhone. All it needs is iCloud sync in that case.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.boulnois Brian Boulnois

    i not listen read the review im suprised its got a high score from the comments people made about the control method already..i pass

  • MrSpud

    My problem is that I use my right index finger to drag the paddle, it makes it impossible to hit the buttons. If I use my left hand, I end up using my thumb instead since it's the hand holding the iPad, but it's very awkward and my hand doesn't stretch that much!

  • Greyskull

    I've also read of an issue whereby a large portion of the screen is covered by a black box. Can anyone who's played this elaborate at all?

    • Krautboy

      That's only on the Ipad. It's ugly but i don't care too much for it. According to the developers it was the only way to go around with the Ipad version,otherwise they had to build the whole game from the ground up or something. Check the thread for their reply about this.

  • paulf58

    It needs work. The low framerate, bad controls and bugs make it unplayable for me. More frustrating than fun.

  • Collin Haberl

    This is a fantastic game, but I'm glad that the first time I played it was on the Mac App Store. I'm not sure if this varies depending on which iPad generation model you have (I have the 1st generation model), but the iOS version plays noticeably slower on my iPad than on my Mac. The speed difference is significant enough that it's a lot more fun to play on the desktop, and (in case this matters to anyone else) once the iOS version is installed it sucks away 140MB of space, which is just ridiculous for a game like this. There must be a way to cut that size down in future updates. That said, if they make up the difference in performance I'll re-install it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erikbmoller Erik Moller

    This is game would be a 5 star game should it of had better controls. It's near impossible to navigate throughout town. The brick-breaking aspect isn't easy either. Anodia springs to mind - a game with great controls. Admittedly, playing Wizorb during brick-breaking mode is better off using your index finger. It's just too hard with your thumb - I have Ronald Niedermann thumbs.

  • http://www.games.99k.org/ games

    this is a fun puzzle game the puzzle get more and more difficult

Wizorb Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4