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Spore (1991) (pc game)
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Breakout meets Zork

Not to be confused with the similarly named Spore, this is a bizarre little game that mixes up the classic text adventure genre, such as seen in Zork, with the bat 'n' ball style of game that is best typified by Arkanoid. It's a bit of a strange combination but strangely enough it actually works and makes for an entertaining experience. You play the part of a space ranger sent to investigate a distress signal sent from one of Earth's colonies. The main section is played out in traditional text adventure fashion, as you explore the planet, seeking out objects to help you solve the puzzles which bar your progress. However, as you wander around, you'll come across a series of shimmering pillar-like objects and it's here that the game switches to Breakout mode. This aspect is pretty simple stuff but in a neat twist, your actions in this section can actually affect your performance in the overall story and once you've completed all 16 such levels, the plot will reach its ultimate conclusion. Although neither element of Spore is overly complex, as a combination, the whole game works pretty well. The text adventure portion is a simple story but one which is told well, with a nice atmosphere created by some decently written descriptions and which is backed up by some solid puzzles. The switch to the arcade portion may come as a surprise to some and while again it's not overly difficult, it gives some well-appreciated variety to proceedings. So, overall, this is definitely one if you're into unusual and obscure offerings.