Twin Breaker Review: An entertaining and challenging walk down memory lane for classic arcade games and Colin Moriarty
Played On: PS4 (Original)
One of the biggest influences for my love and devotion to video games growing up was a, at one time, little podcast on IGN called Podcast Beyond. Although there were plenty of great voices that started every podcast with a hefty “Beyond,” there were two people that really became the face of podcast – Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty. Every week the two, alongside a rotating group of counterparts, would delve into the top PlayStation stories, talk about their lovely dog Portillo, and even share their own hilarious thoughts on who should be in PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. However, as time passed, the two eventually left IGN in 2014 in the wake of a rising presence of YouTube personalities to help create Kinda Funny.
Along with other IGN alum, Tim Gettys, Nick Scarpino, and Kevin Coello, Miller and Moriarty created a new space on YouTube where they would continue to boast their love of Playstation and fight for every point, and partial points, in all of their yearly predictions where they were in control. However, there was a rift slowly developing between Colin and the Kinda Funny crew back in 2017 that came to a head when a seemingly joking tweet from Moriarty drew some unwanted controversial attention – which ultimately resulted in him leaving the company entirely.
Being a longtime fan and having no ill-will towards either side, I almost felt like a kid during a divorce. I mean Miller and Moriarty were the guys that made me invested into earning platinum trophies, which I have 85 of currently, and introduced me to so many games throughout my life, so to seem them split was heartbreaking. I found, and still find myself, catching up with both of them when I could and hoping that things weren’t as strained anymore.
Thankfully though, things have resolved between the two factions and both have continued to be a big influence in the gaming world in their own regard. Miller and Kinda Funny have continued to create new podcasts dedicated to delivering gaming news and even created the Kinda Funny Showcase – where the group hosts a conference highlighting new games from small developers. Moriarty has since gone on to create a new channel, Colin’s Last Stand, where he continues to do some podcasting alongside Chris Ray Gun and now has teamed up with Lillymo Games to create Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure – an ode to classic arcade games.
Written by Moriarty, Twin Breaker throws players into a distant future where humanity has finally been able to colonize outside of Earth and utilize the resources of surrounding planets. However, Earth still has plenty of issues on its surface as countries still engage in nuclear war – except for the United States. With it remaining neutral, the U.S. has been able to become a financial titan and invested their money into the stars as the desire to travel to other galaxies became the number one goal. However, after first generation ships began to disappear completely, one ship suddenly reappeared and then vanished in the same second. To investigate this strange occurrence, two ships, Greetings and Salutations, are sent with a sophisticated weapon system and two pilots, of course, named Colin and Chris. Together, the two must survive strange obstacles in their path and enter a wormhole that leads them into an unexpected trap.
Frankly, the last time I can remember playing a brick breaker was on one of my first cell phones and playing Twin Breaker reminds me why I liked playing it so much. The controls are super simple with players just basically using the analog sticks to control Greetings and Salutations as they keep the “Boucer” ball afloat and use it to destroy enemy blocks. With its classic arcade style and layout, it’s almost as if you’re playing it at an old school arcade cabinet with joysticks in each hand and it makes it a purely nostalgic trip. While the first few levels are your standard brick breaker levels with Greetings and Salutations operating at the bottom of the screen, but then the gameplay shifts way past expectations and gains a lot of great variety. From an excellent nod to Pong gameplay to the craziness that occurs when the two ships bring up holographic replicas to help, Twin Breaker takes a more modern approach to the brick breaker and it leads to a game that’s always ramping up the difficulty in all the right ways.
The game is naturally difficult in how it’s constantly challenging players and it makes it instantly addicting. There’re no difficulty settings or ridiculous obstacle thrown in to mess players up, it’s just the raw and simple brick breaker formula that continuously makes viewers sweat and things like racking up a high score and level grades make players always want to tackle levels in new ways. The level designs are superb and very easy to understand but become more complex as players play them more. I’ll never forget how the second to last level of game got my heart racing and the really awesome boss levels. Not to mention, there’re plenty of power-ups, like coins that give players more points and a hardball that smashes through blocks, and disadvantages, like falling bugs and a power-up that shrinks the platforms, to change things up in the moment.
There’s also a strong amount of other modes outside of the story mode – which has a solid amount of level with 40 different maps for players to play across. If players are looking to up the difficulty a bit with the story mode levels, they tackle marathon mode as they try to beat every level without the health resetting. Players can also take on an onslaught of bosses in Boss Rush, play Pong against bosses through a variety of game modes, collect coins and dodge falling bugs in Catcher Mode, and even test their shooting skills against falling blocks in Shooter Mode. Although some of these modes could’ve used some more meat on their bones and they can be a tad too repetitive, they certainly add more to the overall experience. There’s even a New Game+ mode that allows players to take on more difficult versions of levels and earn higher rankings and scores.
What actually grew on me though was Moriarty’s story of two pilots sort of discovering things about humanity and what it means to find life outside of our solar system. While the text-heavy storytelling isn’t really my things and I wish there were more visual elements to it, possibly even some voice work from Moriarty and Gun as their respective characters, Twin Breaker is definitely an ode to classic arcade storytelling. The breaks in between of Colin and Chris getting their bearings on what’s happening end up being nice, relaxing moments that allow players to catch their breath and figure out what’s really going on as well. The dialogue is nice, and Moriarty does a great job building a lore within this futuristic world that lines up well with the classic art style of the game.
For the most part, players, as well as Colin and Chris, are left unsure with where things are going, but the end makes things much clearer and presents an interesting thought about humanity’s actions. It questions our advancements and use of nuclear weapons and showcases a possible consequence that’s definitely food for thought. It’s not over-bearing or in your face with its story and rather provides a great through line and world for players to become interested in between levels and leave with something to think about. Not to mention, there’s more story for players to dive into by gaining collectibles through racking up high scores so there’s plenty for players to uncover.
Twin Breaker is an absolute blast to the past in the ways it pays homage to classic brick breakers, but ultimately stands out through an excellent and innovative design for the genre, a variety of unique modes, and Moriarty’s simple sci-fi story. It’s a game that does a lot with very little and hats off to Moriarty and Lillymo Games for creating a nostalgic trip I didn’t know I needed. It’s an experience that’s made the Podcast Beyond, Kinda Funny, and CLS fan reminisce and reconcile in all the right ways and makes me crave for more from Moriarty in the future.
*All Photos were Taken by the Author*