Breakout is an arcade game developed and published by Atari, Inc. It was conceptualized by Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow, influenced by the 1972 Atari arcade game Pong, and built by Steve Wozniak aided by Steve Jobs. The game was ported to multiple platforms and upgraded to video games such as Super Breakout. In addition, Breakout was the basis and inspiration for books, video games, film, and the Apple II personal computer.
In the game, a layer of bricks lines the top third of the screen. A ball travels across the screen, bouncing off the top and side walls of the screen. When a brick is hit, the ball bounces away and the brick is destroyed. The player loses a turn when the ball touches the bottom of the screen. To prevent this from happening, the player has a movable paddle to bounce the ball upward, keeping it in play.
Breakout begins with eight rows of bricks, with each two rows a different color. The color order from the bottom up is yellow, green, orange and red. Using a single ball, the player must knock down as many bricks as possible by using the walls and/or the paddle below to ricochet the ball against the bricks and eliminate them. If the player's paddle misses the ball's rebound, he or she loses a turn. The player has three turns to try to clear two screens of bricks. Yellow bricks earn one point each, green bricks earn three points, orange bricks earn five points and the top-level red bricks score seven points each. The paddle shrinks to one-half its size after the ball has broken through the red row and hit the upper wall. Ball speed increases at specific intervals: after four hits, after twelve hits, and after making contact with the orange and red rows.
The maximum score achievable for one player is 896; this is done by eliminating two screens of bricks worth 448 points each. Once the second screen of bricks is destroyed, the ball in play harmlessly bounces off empty walls until the player relinquishes the game, as no additional screens are provided. However, a secret way to score beyond the 896 maximum is to play the game in two-player mode. If 'Player One' completes the first screen on his or her third and last ball, then immediately and deliberately allows the ball to 'drain,' Player One's second screen is transferred to 'Player Two' as a third screen, allowing Player Two to score a maximum of 1,344 points if he is adept enough to keep the third ball in play that long. Once the third screen is eliminated, the game is over.
The original arcade version of Breakout has been officially ported to several systems, such as Video Pinball, the Atari 5200 (included in Super Breakout), and the Atari 2600. The Atari 2600 port was programmed by Brad Stewart. Stewart had been working on a backup project for the Atari 2600, which was eventually canceled. Consequently, Brad and Ian Shepherd were both available to program Breakout for the Atari 2600. They decided to compete in the original version of Breakout for the programming rights. In the end, Brad won. In development, he didn't receive help of the original designers (and was unaware who they were), and felt that there were few obstacles to overcome. Difficulties arose with the Television Interface Adaptor. The game was published in 1978 and was conceptually the same, but with a few key differences. First, there were only six rows of bricks. Second, the player is given five turns to clear two walls instead of three. One notable addition was the Breakthru variant, where the ball does not bounce off of the bricks, but continues through them until it hits the wall. Atari had this term trademarked and used it as a sister term to Breakout in order to describe gameplay, especially in look-alike games and remakes.
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