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I have fond memories of Breakout as a child, my son even has a rather low quality version on his 'kids camera' and Puppet Kings [Steam] is an interesting take on it.

Disclosure: Key provided by the developer through our Steam Curator.

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At it's core, it is Breakout, actually to be more precise it's more like Arkanoid which expanded upon Breakout. You have your paddle, you break blocks and you get some powerups that drop down. That's all pretty standard for this type of game. However, it's Arkanoid on steroids with every level being a boss battle. It takes the tried and tested formula, adds in some new chemicals and gives it a firm shake.

This boss battle mechanic makes Puppet Kings feel fresh on every level, it feels constantly hectic and it's actually surprisingly exciting. Each boss has unique attacks like massive floating hands to slap you with, or spikes that come up from the floor which can slow and stun you, making it a mad dash to reach the ball before it drops out of the level losing you one of your precious lives.

It's actually quite difficult too, there's so much that needs your attention, it really is engaging. From what I've found, each boss has a particular way to take them down quickly too, although actually getting the ball where you want to go while you're dodging their attacks and sliding across the screen for powerups isn't at all easy.

The art is absolutely outstanding. The boss pictured below was quite a highlight, the way they've animated all the different enemies is always good, but this one was stunning. It looks like a painting, but that entire massive robotic creature was moving around—simply amazing.

It doesn't have many reviews on Steam, going by SteamSpy it has very few sales and it just seems like people have completely overlooked it, which is quite sad considering how slick it is.

Sadly, I did encounter one issue: When I tried to take a screenshot with the F12 feature of the Steam Overlay, it completely froze my game so I lost a bunch of progress. That's really the only downside of the game that lets it down, you can't stop after a few levels as it will not save where you are. You have to go through it all, or try again another time. Thankfully each level is quite quick, but even so it would be nice to come back to a particular level if I wanted to leave it there until later.

I throughly enjoyed the challenge, but having to go through without saving is an issue. You can find it on Steam.

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tuubi 9 Jan, 2018
Arkanoid II on the Amiga. How many hours did I sink into that game, I wonder. This one looks all shiny, but I wonder if all the extra stuff going on in addition to good old block-breaking actually makes it less fun? I might want Puppet Kings, but I'll need to read a few more reviews before it ends up on my wishlist.
TheSHEEEP 10 Jan, 2018
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I tried it for a bit but I can't really recommend it. Posted the below also on the Steam forum.
Usually I'd give it a thumbs down with a review, but I don't like doing that with indies that are struggling to sell copies anyway and the game isn't terrible.

First of all is the lack of options. A game without audio sliders? When was the last time I saw THAT outside of mobile games? Can't even remember. Game blew my ears away and had me adjust system volume.
Same for controls: Can't change them. Admittedly there are not too many actions to take (left, right, release ball), but still. At least you can adjust the movement speed.
No graphics options, either. Want to change fullscreen/window/borderless fullscreen/resolution? Nope.
Options are the first thing I check when trying a game (this is PC, after all), so it was off to a bad start already.

The gameplay itself is just too random, especially later on.

The first bosses can be dealt with based on player skill (how to aim the ball), but the later ones require that in addition to pure luck. I don't think arcade games should have a big luck factor.

It just happens way too often that your only decision is if you want to die by not even trying to get the ball or if you want to die by trying to get to the ball, get stunned by something and thus missing the ball. The forge boss is especially ridiculous here with calling down a curtain of fire that has a "safety gap" - which is of course entirely useless as it isn't where the ball is.
Quite honestly, the breakout/bullet "hell" mix doesn't work out too well.

Additionally, the amount of lives you get seems to be very random. I once had 10 lives by the time I got to the fifth stage, another time I had six - in neither case did I lose any so one run was just way more lucky.

A few of the power ups are also underpowered. You will curse each time you get a shield, as they are really only useful in fringe cases - only when you cannot avoid being hit on your own while also trying to get to the ball. Basically the above described case - when that happens, you won't usually have a shield ;)
The barrier also is highly situational, in some cases even harmful.

Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 10 January 2018 at 1:05 pm UTC
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