3D Noid Brings a New Angle to Breakout Games for the iPhone

Sometimes iPhone developers like to clone a popular arcade game and sometimes take a more creative spin on the matter, and the latter is what Raptured Line did with its brand new, socially enabled title, 3D Noid. The game is actually a rendition of breakout games – the ones where you hit a ball with a paddle and destroy all the blocks – but here’s the catch: Like the name suggests, this breakout app is entirely in 3D.

Using a mix of nostalgia and new technology, this $0.99 application puts the player in the perspective of the paddle as the screen moves down an elevator shaft type of environment. Periodically, multi-colored boxes fill up the room horizontally and vertically, with the objective to keep them from reaching the paddle by breaking them with a the typical white, bouncing ball.

As far as standards go, it has all the basic breakout elements: The ball bounces about with decent physics, players can hit multiple blocks for combos, pick up power ups (i.e. multiple balls at once), and so on. The trick, and the fun part, is that the game’s 3D environment is completely controlled by the iPhone’s tilt sensors. It’s a little jarring at first as the player adjusts to the new controls, but it quickly becomes very intuitive and entertaining.

Unfortunately, the game does have one big flaw in its design and that is the concept of depth perception. It is exceedingly difficult to tell how far away boxes or the ball are vertically as all the shades and hues are of roughly the same value. Multiple times, we lost extra balls because it was too hard to tell which blocks were closer. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to see behind blocks due to the perspective, so while in a 2D breakout game you could angle the ball into gaps so it bounces around a bit before coming down, these are now very hard to see, thus removing high scoring strategies used in the traditional versions. Perhaps that just means that new strategies need to be formulated. However, what did make up for it, at least a bit, was it’s OpenFeint capability.

Likely, users will spend a lot of time making use of the social capabilities that come with the platform. A personal favorite is the challenges which allow users to submit their high score to a friend directly, leading to some competitive longevity. Seeing as how this is a remake of a classic arcade game, and high scores were what really made these games addictive back then, it really is a perfect fit. Moreover, the game also has built in leaderboards that can be sorted by your OpenFeint friends, or globally, as well as a handful of achievements that can be earned and displayed to other users.

Unfortunately, there are only seven that can be earned at this time, but Raptured Line did put in a interesting “Secret” achievement that will not be revealed until it is unlocked. This will likely lure at least some players into the draw of figuring out just what it is, and with any game that has any sort of social implication, there is something to be said about being the first to do something.

Of course, in the end, the game is still just a breakout game, so the secret isn’t going to be anything earth shattering. Furthermore, despite its use of new technology, 3D Noid is not much more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It is fun the first couple times you play it, but even with OpenFeint, unless you are a diehard breakout fan, you probably won’t play it much after a while. The good news though, is that as an iPhone app, updates are often frequent and significant, so this average game is likely to get much better in the future.