Sketchpad Escape Review

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Sketchpad Escape Review

Brick breakers are something special in the world of digital games. It was one of the first and most successful console games available. It was dead simple yet addictive. It was also adapted to the poor graphical possibilities of the 80s. Then, it was also the first game most developers with the first PCs could write. It was a time of “rectangle design”. Pong was the first Rectangle game, mocking a tennis game. Breakout was its follower. Small rectangles being hit by another small rectangle and caught-up by another rectangle: that was the genius recipe of the arcade game Breakout. It was in 1976!! And guess what: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were involved if we believe this article!

Since then, brick breakers never stopped to be around. One after the other, developers have imagined new inventive ways to break brick walls. But ultimately, the gameplay has never really changed. Anyone with a brick breaker on screen knows exactly what to do.

Today, I am going to review one of the latest iterations of brick breakers: Sketchpad Escape, by MannagraphiX Studios llc.

What is Sketchpad Escape?

Sketchpad Escape is a brick breaker game with a graphical design mocking a school sketchpad. There are dozens of levels with various complications. SketchPad Escape contains also quite some complication about what should be done and how. But all in all, it is a brick breaker.

Gameplay

What can be said about the gameplay? Maybe I should say that the troubles to catch the ball do not come (at least for all the 21 levels I played) from the increase in speed of the ball. It comes from the need to catch 2 balls at the same time or from nasty things raining from the top. Yes, from time to time a multicolored ball is rushing like mad on the screen, but it does not count as it is a bonus you won while doing some combination on the brick wall. So, missing it does not mean missing the level.

Sketchpad Escape Pro Review

Sketchpad Escape Pro Screenshot

Anyway, the bottom line is that Sketchpad Escape is renewing the brick-breaking genre by increasing the complexity of the game. It has two effects:

  • If you play without reading the help to start with (like I did), you will get frustrated pretty quickly. You hardly understand why you score or not and you clearly get puzzled by the bricks changing colors or the ink stains on screen
  • Once you have read the manual, the game starts to be interesting again. I’ll be honest and say that the manual is pretty complicated. There are many things you can and should do. It is a bit overwhelming and I stopped reading the details before the end. In my mind, a brick breaker did not require any sort of user manual. But when I came back to the game after reading it, I must admit that it was much more fun. I had some clue about what was happening and the challenge was much more interesting. So, I do recommend reading the help!

Maybe I should add that the physics have been pushed to some limit for a brick breaker as sometimes you may have the ball bouncing on each other or even the balls going almost horizontally and taking ages to reach the bottom of the screen (that is actually irritating but rare enough fortunately). This physics element, in the end, makes the game more interesting. While talking about physics, I had the impression that I could not control much the ball on its bounce. I was expecting the ball to take a wider angle if I touch it near the edge of the paddle. The effects were quite light and I did not control as much as I wanted. I believe there might be some tuning to do on this one.

Graphic Design and FX

The graphic design of Sketchpad Escape is clearly original and consistent. The graphic design is a stylish monochrome (two tones in fact) environment, and one must recognize the proper design work done on the game. I like when the graphical design of an app, especially a game is providing a feeling for a specific “world”. Sketchpad Escape Pro is doing just that. Well done. It reminds me of another game I have reviewed that had very few colours to it: Freeze. Very different worlds though.

MannagraphiX Studios have been faithful to the game genre and created a sound environment made of electronic kind-of-repetitive music. I am not a big fan of this type of repetitive music. It plays on my nerves fast. But on the bright side, it is reminding clearly the game genre and as such is making plain sense.

Fun level

Is Sketchpad fun? It sure is. Would I feel addicted? Not really. I found that the levels were quite too similar for my taste. They change in shape but the game lacked the need for developing any sort of strategy. I am not sure exactly why but it felt to me a lot like “Let’s break some bricks!” without much of “How on earth will I be challenged next time?” element. The game is offering complexity but maybe there is some Strategy bit missing in the equation, since speed is not the problem. Does this make the game dull? Not at all. It is a solid bricks breaker and bricks you will break.

I have used my daughter as an app reviewer helper many times and she played her part with this one as well. She actually found it in the iPad before I had time to mention it to her. Within minutes she was playing and she did not seem to find the game annoying at all.

I should also say that that I did not try the game until its end. I suspect, considering the level of care this app has been the object of, that there are some surprises along the way that I did not find. In fact, along these 21 levels I went through, the latest started to be more difficult. There are many more levels and they might become very challenging.

Bugs/No bugs

Nothing at all to signal: All worked fine for me for 21 levels in a row.

Conclusion

Sketchpad is a very decent brick breaker game. You will have loads of levels to go through and it will kill time extremely well. It plays well on iPad and iPhone, has no bug, advert or anything annoying to it. It is all in all a well-balanced game well designed and well executed for the mobile platform. If you like the brick-breaker genre, you should like SketchpadEscape. For the current price of $0.99 there is no question that it is very good value for money! Go for it.

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Thank you.

 

MannagraphiX Studios’ Interview

What’s in an App?

MannagraphiX Studios' Interview

MannagraphiX Studios’ Interview