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.