Sunday, June 14, 2009

Brickbreaker tips: Part 2, Level 18 to Level 34

Level 18: If you launch with your aim all the way to the left the ball will eventually activate two pills on the right hand side of the inverted pyramid of bricks before bouncing back down below the horizontal line of silver bricks. With a bit of maneuvering you can get either one of those pills, or both. Remember that CATCH erases MULTI, BOMB, LASER and FLIP. If you get GUN there are lots of ways to play it. The simplest is to take out the middle three silver bricks. More sophisticated would be to take out the three bricks on one side. Taking them on your weak side might save you a LIFE at some point. LASER does you no good at all, and if you used it to erase CATCH, well, shame on you.

Level 19 has only two pills, at the bottom left and bottom right. About one round in ten it may be possible to launch the ball up through the gap, bouncing off the right edge. The rest of the time you will need a couple of bounces to get it there. The more vertical the path, the more likely it will actually hit one of the bricks you want. The more diagonal, the more likely it is that you will have eliminated the other three bricks before getting the last pill.

Level 20 looks like a pair of bookends and contains only two bricks, each of which has a pill. The way the silver bricks are organized makes it hard to hit a red brick; the only reliable way is to launch as vertically as possible up the central passage, and when the ball bounces back down, bounce it back up vertically. It will bounce off one side of the passage and after a series of almost vertical bounces off the top wall it will bounce straight down into one of the chambers, and hit the brick on the way up. After that you will just have to hang in there to get the other brick.

Level 21 feels like a gold mine after the previous couple of levels. Every brick in the top row has a pill. Launch the ball nearly vertically to the right and you will get three pills in a row and enough time to evaluate and collect them all if you want them. If you get GUN, shoot out the two silver bricks beneath the red bricks at the top left and top right. If you get LASER, start to spray the top row and the sides if you have managed to GUN out those two protective silver bricks. Remember that MULTI preserves LASER and vice-versa but that CATCH and MULTI erase each other.

Level 22 can be a pain, especially once the ball starts zipping around and the 6 trays of silver bricks start dropping in on you. No pills to be had, and this is one of the levels where BrickBreaker may surprise you by having the ball slip through between the end of a silver brick and the side wall. It is rare, but not unknown, and it will catch you completely unprepared unless you follow the ball with your paddle from side to side. In the newer "small ball" versions of Brickbreaker it is more common. This level will test your quickness and your accuracy hitting the ball on diagonals towards the small gap in the center. Do not be afraid to bounce the ball off the side wall to improve your position.

Level 23 is one that I use a different strategy for in round one compared to round two. In round one I work to get through all the bricks on one side as fast as possible, to get the ball into the top half of the screen before it speeds up and the array starts down towards me. In round two I work to knock out the middle pills first because the ball speeds up and the array drops immediately. Only the top two bricks on the screen have pills. The other bricks along the side take some cleverness to knock out. One method that works is to clean the red bricks out of the center then bounce the ball in to them from the side. If it exits upwards, chances are about 50-50 that it will hit one of the side red bricks. If you happen to get GUN, use it to take silver bricks from the side. Ideally you can get three silver bricks out of the way. If you get CATCH, then ignore the other pill, even if it is LIFE. CATCH will save you a LIFE in this level, and many other high levels.

Level 24 is another gold mine of pills, with just about every brick having one. Aim almost straight up and just keep going. If you have a chance to get LASER and there is nothing left to shoot at, it isn't much use. So if you happen to be LONG and a LASER comes by, ignore LASER and hope for a MULTI. LONG and MULTI are a great combination at any time, and you will delight yourself by learning how to keep three or four balls active at once. The last two pills in Level 24 live up at the top and can not be reached until the array starts to drop towards you. Having CATCH as one of your last settings is great, but recognize that you will get a pill from each of the top corner bricks and you should think through in advance what you will do with it. Unless it is a CATCH or a LIFE it may be worth your while to avoid the pill.

Level 25 consists of a big box in the middle of the screen and bricks above the box and in the box. The first shot in Level 25 should just miss the corner of the box, work around the top and then bounce into the box. There are usually four pills in the box and two pills in the top corners above the box. If you get GUN early in Level 25, consider picking off the bottom corners of the box just to make your life easier as the box works its way down the screen. You don't want to make a hole in the bottom of the box, just the corners.

Level 26, I swear, has changed to foil me. I used to just crank the stick over to the left and launch the ball into the channel above the silver bricks. Now the ball bounces off a brick and comes back to the paddle without going anywhere near where it used to go. It takes forever to clear the bricks out of the channel so you can get into the top third of the screen where the pills are. And as the array marches relentlessly downwards, time and space get to be a premium. Level 26 gets me on the second round, far more often than Level 16. Small ball versions of the game have plenty of chances for the ball to leak past the right side of the lower right brick, so keep your paddle under the ball.

Level 27 might as well be from a different game than Level 26. One brick, no pills, a narrow sideways gap that you have to maneuver through but once you do, it is over pretty much right away. If you don't get through, then eventually the array starts its way down the screen and you can go over the top. Round one, be patient. Round two, bounce the ball a couple of times then send it around the end of the bottom row of silver bricks and get it either through the gap or over the top.

Level 28 has a pill in almost every brick. The hard part is to have the paddle in the right place, over at the far right corner, when the pills fall from the bricks up the right hand side. Start by launching the ball almost straight up, then bounce it into the bottom right brick. Get onto the rhythm of the level, so that the ball and the paddle and the pill are in the right place at the right time. If you get GUN, take out a silver brick in the bottom row and one in the top row, then take out the silver brick directly below the brick in the box. If you get LASER, just sit at the bottom right and pour laser shots up until all those bricks are gone. Remember also that the brick inside the box also has a pill in it.

Level 29 starts with a launch to the far left, freeing whatever pill is in the brick in the first channel. In round one the ball will return and you can do it again, sending the ball down the first channel and (with any luck) up into one of the channels above. In round 2, things start to happen quickly and if the ball is not in the upper channels after your second or third hit you could be in trouble indeed. If you get GUN from one of the four pills, take out the two silver bricks up the left wall plus the second brick from the right on the bottom row.

Level 30 has three bricks, the upper two of which have pills. Aim all the way to the left and your launch ball may end up bouncing off the wall and into the top right enclosure. Chances are that it will not, however. It will fall just short and the middle brick will get hit. This means that you will capture only one of the two pills. Patience, they say, is a virtue.

Level 31 can be handled with a couple of perfect shots, where the ball bounces off the side wall and between the silver bricks but not back down where you started. All that I can suggest is that you have patience with this one. Once the ball gets through to the upper part of the screen you may not have to hit it again. No pills on Level 31.

Level 32 is almost comically easy after Level 31. Aim left, launch, send the ball back up there again and judge whether the pills that start falling are worth catching. Only the brick at the bottom right, typically the last one to be hit, has no pill in it.

Level 33 has no pills. You can start anywhere you want, but I find the bottom left works best for me because that corner is hard to get the ball to later when play is going on and things are moving quickly. As we learned much earlier, having the ball in the top half of the array when it is moving quickly is better than having it down near the bottom of the screen and being vulnerable to a bad bounce.

Level 34 has one brick and one pill. Get the ball up the right hand side, and be prepared for it to come back once or twice, but sooner or later it will wind its way through the maze and catch the brick. If you get GUN, use it right away to blast the silver brick and the red brick above it. If you get BOMB, then the next time the ball touches the brick you will find yourself back around at Level 1. SLOW isn't worth it, CATCH might help, and LONG might help. But this is not a hard level to get past. In round two Level 34 marches right down to near the bottom of the screen but in doing so it opens up the top of the screen for the ball to get through.

Each round should earn you somewhere between 15,500 and 17,500 points. But the points can be a distraction; the real secret to the game is getting LIFE after LIFE after LIFE. You will surely need these lives in round two where everything happens quickly for a while. But as you hang in there and keep the ball alive, suddenly it all slows down again. And the pace that it slows down to is the pace that every round after round two goes at, sedate and (dare I say) not very challenging, if you are playing with an older Blackberry and the large ball. Newer Blackberries with the small ball version of the game present an ongoing challenge after round 2.

Good luck. As suggested with the first half of Blackberry Brickbreaker Tips, please feel free to leave a comment about your score and the areas that give you trouble.

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