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Pop-Pop is a shareware game for Mac OS, courtesy of Ambrosia Software. It combines the classic break-the-bricks formula of Breakout with an assortment of power-ups and characters that feature different abilities. The game can be played in a single player puzzle mode, or against computer opponents (which play very well), but Pop-Pop really shines in multiplayer mode. Multiplayer is the main feature, and it's primarily what I'll talk about here.

The general idea is that you have a paddle, a ball, and a playing field filled with bricks. You have to bounce the ball by hitting it with the paddle in such a way that it will hit one or more bricks before bouncing back. When the ball comes back, should you fail to hit it with your paddle, the bricks will fall down one line on the screen. If the bricks should fall past the "line of destiny" near the bottom of the screen, it's game over.

Various power-ups appear randomly throughout the game, along with the occasional power-downs as well. Some of these include items that make your paddle bigger or smaller, power-ups to allow your ball to go straight through any bricks without bouncing, and items that cause the bricks in your playing field to be pushed back up or brought further down towards the line of destiny.

Each time you hit the ball with your paddle, you gain one power point. You can save these up and use them to charge your paddle, or use them to activate your character's special power. If you charge your paddle, each power point you charge it with will result in the ball going through a brick rather than bouncing off it. So, if you invest three power points in your paddle and then hit the ball, it will go through up to three bricks, and bounce off the fourth like normal, if it should hit one.

When playing against an opponent, be it human or otherwise, each player picks one of seven available characters to play as. Each character has a special ability that can be powered up and activated by saving up power accumulated with each hit of the ball. The powers range from visual distractions to outright direct interference with your opponent's game. The characters and their abilities are as follows:

  • Bombastic - He can drop two bombs on the other player. If he or she does not "catch" the bombs with the paddle, their bricks will fall down one or two lines (depending on if one or both of the bombs did not get caught).
  • Ducky - Each time Ducky uses his super power, a little rubber ducky appears in the opponent's playing field. If the ball hits the duck, it bounces off at some random angle. One or two ducks is not much of a problem, but a dozen or more of them can become a real nuisance - or make the difference between a win and a loss.
  • Ioni - Her specialty is sending a batch of flowers to fill the opponent's game board. And not just any flowers - the center of each flower looks a lot like the game ball. The flowers bounce around like crazy for a few seconds, making it almost impossible to see the board and the ball.
  • Mini-T - This guy's full of hot air, and he's not afraid to use it. When his ability comes into play, he blows the opponent's paddle down, making it hard to hit the ball properly.
  • Mr. Man - His special ability is to send a robot to his opponent's board, which adds a whole column of bricks. Unless, of course, the player under attack hits the robot with his ball before that happens.
  • Tex - Tex's claim to fame is taking pot shots at the opponent's paddle. If any of the bullets find their target, they stun the paddle for a few seconds.
  • Zap - His power involves sending orbs of energy to his opponent's board. These orbs warp the path of the ball as it passes by, pulling (or pushing) it way off course.

As mentioned above, the game ends when one player's bricks cross the line of destiny. It's also possible to win by clearing all the bricks from your board, but this can be incredibly hard to do when playing against an opponent of any skill. Strategic use of your character's special ability, combined with fast brick-bashin' skills, will carry you to victory.

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