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[Free-Game Friday is a new weekly feature in which a writer from the GamerLimit staff looks at a completely free game and discusses their experience with it, allowing you to download it at the end. Feel free to check out our full schedule right here!]

Once again it’s Friday, and that means that we’ll be taking a look at an indie title that’s free to download.

This week’s game is Firequark: a first-time indie project from a U.K-based developer, better known by his nickname, Pilch.

Firequark is a breakout-style game with a twist. The aim is to destroy every brick on the screen without dropping the ball. You get three lives to progress as far as you can through ten levels. Rather than controlling just the one paddle, however, you use the mouse to control four – one on each side of the screen. What this creates is an enjoyable and addictive game that’s very easy to pick up, yet intensely challenging as you progress.

Having four paddles comes at a cost, though; the ball can leave the game by any side of the screen. This means that you have to pay attention at all times and be doubly cautious when it comes to aiming your shots. As you progress through the stages, the ball moves faster, and the blocks take more hits before they break.

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In addition to this, sometimes breaking the bricks will release power-ups. These power-ups float slowly around the level until the ball makes contact with them. At this point, they shoot off in a random direction. Catching an orb with a paddle will also grant you a power-up.

The effects of the power-ups are varied: some have positive effects, and some will hinder you, so you’ll need to watch to see what colour the orbs are. Green and red are good and bad, respectively. However, you can also come across the super versions of these orbs, with blue providing you with massive benefits, and purple signifying certain doom, if caught. Benefits include slowing the speed of the ball down, multi-ball and a laser beam that instantly vaporises one brick, whereas collecting a bad orb can shrink your paddles, or even reverse the controls for a short time.

In the later levels, when the ball is traveling at a faster speed and you’ve gathered power-ups that have increased the size of your paddles, it can be difficult to avoid picking up a stray purple orb. This means that there is a very low chance of completing the game. Despite this, the developer has promised that both he, and his girlfriend, have completed the game. So hopefully this knowledge will spur you on.

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Although it’s obviously simplistic in design, the game is presented with a lot of polish. The color scheme works well, and it’s a nice touch. The audio for the game is also oddly catchy, reminding me of some of the tracks from Pixel Junk Eden. Best of all, it’s an innovative, new take on a formula that worked well, and in an indie game like this, that is what really matters.

The only real negative I can see is that after you’ve completed the ten levels, there is no added incentive, such as a score, to get you to replay the game. However, Pilch is running a leaderboard of sorts on the game’s forums and has promised a reward to anyone who can beat the game.

If you enjoyed titles like Peggle and Super Breakout, and are looking for a quick, challenging distraction, then Firequark is worth investigating. It’s nice to see someone building something up from scratch, and hopefully, if he gets enough exposure, we’ll see more levels or perhaps a new game from Pilch in the future.

You can pick up Firequark here.

  1. Love this game! The purple power ups are the bain of my life though if you get one of those its more a less game over. This game is very addicive and I think the 4 paddles around the screen is original, and it works surprisingly well always forcing you to think a step ahead. A great project and I am looking forward to seeing more from this person
    Filthycriminal

  2. avatar Nobody that knows the designer that's for sure...

    Firstly, I just need people to know that I’m not normally interested in games. At all. But I just adore this game and have spent many a happy hour playing it (maybe I should get out more but that’s another issue). Firequark really is a testament to the notion that the simplest ideas can be the best -but don’t be fooled by the relative simplicity of the premise, as this game poses a challenge that should be welcomed by both the avid and novice gamer alike. Being successful in the game requires skill (which can undoubtedly be honed through practice), calculated risk and a certain degree of luck… but when all three come together playing Firequark is truly an awesome experience. What’s more, the music really complements the game itself and is a credit to the person who put it together. Overall – Firequark gets a resounding thumbs up from me!

  3. avatar Jiro

    competitor is now bringing in sinifigcantly more revenue. That’s ultimately what their crunch time culture has sown, a crumbling empire.I always say to do estimates by lifecycle phase. Don’t estimate coding until the design is done (or 90%), testing until coding is done, etc. I prefer to allocate the same number of hours to QA as were given to coding. The estimates tend to be very accurate that way but difficult to convince people that you can’t estimate everything up front. Otherwise you’re just going the 3 weeks/6 weeks route for small/big projects.As for cutting QA, well, you don’t want the reputation of Acclaim or the bring out the gimp theme, eh? It’s ok, your users will test for you, right? And smear your name all over the internetz.

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