This is your Breakout.

This is your Breakout on drugs.

...So, Energy Invasion. It's a bit of an odd duck, if only because its component parts are somewhat disparate. You've got the title card for the game, which makes it look like one of those crazy weird translations of a vertical shmup from the mid-2000s. (Why yes I am thinking of Mobile Light Force 2, viewers at home) You've got this dark, almost ominous color pallette. You've got the pounding musical soundtrack.

And it's all wrapped up in a game that really is a self-admitted Breakout clone.

If you've never played one of those...Well, first, god dammit I'm not supposed to feel old yet. Second, go learn your damn gaming history, you little whatsit. Third...Okay, so, classic Breakout gameplay works like this. You have a paddle on the bottom of the screen, moves left and right by your command. You have a ball that you can launch upwards, to a big set of blocks up above. Ball hits a block, ball breaks the block and bounces off. If the ball goes beneath your paddle, you lose a life. Simple classic arcade stuff. (I mean, the original Breakout came from 1976, so I'm not surprised it was simple.)

The game's had a lot of clones over the years, throwing in their various twists. But of course, as arcade experiences dipped in popularity, and Breakout clones(or Arkanoid clones, if they copied that game's power-up structure like many did) kinda stacked up pretty thoroughly, there was less and less interest in the genre. They haven't been seen much at all in recent years, really, outside of some mobile games borrowing the structure.

Which brings us back to Energy Invasion. The main twist here is that your core ball does not actually affect the blocks. Instead, it's a sort of roving multiball turret, shooting out what the game calls 'missiles' via the right stick that can affect the blocks. These missiles, though, operate like balls in every way except one, namely that they don't cause you to lose your life when you inevitably miss them. But bounce off the walls, bounce off your paddle, that all works.

And that produces a very interesting dynamic, because you have to not just be paying attention to where your paddle and ball are, but actively keeping both in play. Shooting missiles in the right directions, keeping them actively in play, and all while ensuring that your actual ball doesn't get lost and cost you a precious life, is a very interesting 'pat your head and rub your tummy' kind of multi-focus setup.

Then the game throws in some more twists on the formula, with things like active enemies entering the mix. Who fire eeeeevil red 'missiles' at you, which bounce all over like normal except really want to hit your paddle and kill it.

Oh, and the whole thing is rippling under a very high-energy electronic soundtrack. Did I mention that? Because the music is very well put together. It's more of the running-and-dacing-to-it range of electronic than the sit-back-in-your-chair-like-the-guy-on-the-cassette-tapes range (see kids, cassette tapes were GET OFF MY PROPERTY), but is really solid stuff in that.

Now, you could well argue that a good soundtrack and a few twists on some old gameplay don't make for a worthy game on their own. The fact that the thing is so simple certainly gives it more of a 'talented amateur' vibe. And, real talk, I definitely ran into a few quirks and problems, times where the internal physics behind the ball bouncing decided I needed to be punished, or outright glitches. Like, if you are making a simple binary choice between buying this and some much-beloved indie at the top of the charts, yeah, this isn't gonna win.

But here's the thing.

This game costs 3 dollars.

I paid more than that for a cheeseburger the other day. Not, like, a fancy cheeseburger at the kind of place where they bring stuff out to you and you pay after you eat, either. I'm talking a fast food, assembly line, came in a little cardboard box in a paper bag burger. Throw in my drink and fries, and I could've bought this game, twice, and still had change to put in the gumball machine.

Hell, 3 dollars just to put the menu on for background music really isn't bad. I'm doing that literally right now as I write this review, in fact. And, I mean, I can't just throw it a Recommended because of how good of a musical album it makes. But still.

How much meaty, lasting entertainment do you demand out of three friggin' dollars, really?