Company: Starpath / Arcadia
Model #:
Scott Nelson
Year: 1982
Clone of Breakout


Although Starpath/Arcadia is fondly remembered by many gamers for their complex and unique Atari 2600 games, many forget that they started out by making unauthorized clones of popular games.  In fact their fist four games (Phaser Patrol, Communist Mutants From Space, Fireball, and Suicide Mission) were all knock offs of various games (Star Raiders, Galaxian, Breakout, and Asteroids respectively).  Of course Starpath enhanced and updated these games to give players more bang for their buck, but they were still 'loving tributes' nonetheless.  Fireball is one of these games.


To say Fireball is a Breakout clone isn't quite fair.  Yes obviously heavily borrows from Breakout, but it adds some unique variations of its own.  In fact there are five different styles of play, each one with its own unique rules.  In all variations the player controls a little guy who 'juggles fireballs' (according to the manual).  Your character basically acts as a paddle that can hold two fireballs at once (one in each hand) as he moves across the bottom of the screen.  Of course you can only hold onto your balls for so long (I swore to myself that I wasn't going to make that joke but the pressure got to me) and they'll automatically be thrown after a short time.  You start with five chances but earn an extra one for each screen of bricks you clear.  You can also add an extra ball to the mix by hitting the fire button three times rapidly until there are six balls on the screen.  Doing so increases your scoring (the more balls in play the higher your score) but if you miss ANY ball you'll lose a life so be careful.  You can also use the difficulty switches to help catch the balls if you're having trouble (B=Easier Catching, A=Harder Catching).



The first variation is called Firetrap.  This is really just Super Breakout's Cavity variation.  Here the board resembles two circles with balls trapped inside.  Once you free the balls they'll bounce out and you'll have to contend with them so be careful.  This variation is fairly easy due to the lack of blocks to reflect your shots.



Marching Blocks

Marching Blocks is very similar to Super Breakout's Progressive mode where the blocks appear in rows that slowly move down the screen.  However unlike Super Breakout where this occurs over time, in Fireball the blocks move down each time you catch a ball.  This can lead to a very hectic board very fast.  There are also balls trapped between the various rows of blocks that you can free and occasionally a 'mystery fireball' will appear out of nowhere for some extra fun.



This variation is just regular Breakout.  You must destroy the entire wall of blocks before a new one appears.  Nothing too interesting here other than the name which was changed from Brick-A-Brac in the prototype.



Migrating Blocks

This is the first completely new variation.  The board is set up similar to Super Breakout's Cavity mode (without the extra balls), but the holes 'migrate' around the blocks similar to the shield in Yar's Revenge.  The rows will rotate (moving the hole) left or right every few seconds making this variation extremely random.  This is probably the most unique and fun of all the variations.




This variation is similar to Firetrap except there are FIVE balls in pockets for you to free.  If you like juggling balls, then this is variation for you.  This is probably the hardest and most hectic variation as it's almost impossible to keep all six balls in the air at once.  You can score big though if you manage to do it.



While Fireball is a fun Breakout clone, it gets a bit dull after a while even with the various variations. There are nice graphical touches here and there such as the shepherds crook (also called a Vaudeville Hook) that grabs and drags your guy off when you miss a ball, but at the end of the day it's still just Breakout.  The ability to add more balls to the game at any time is a nice touch which adds a lot to the game.  The Supercharger does an amazing job at allowing up to 6 balls to fly around the screen with no flicker, which is a sight to see.  Fireball also supports up to 4 players (with two sets of paddles) so it can make for a fun party game (assuming you throw those kinds of parties).  If you really love Breakout, then Fireball is the best version you're going to find on just about any system.


Version Cart Text Description
7/17/82 Fireball Late WIP


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