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How to Play “Atari Breakout” on Google

Google is known for hiding fun Easter eggs and retro video games within its products. One of the most popular pays tribute to the iconic 1970s arcade game "Atari Breakout." Here‘s an in-depth look at the history of this classic, how Google resurrected it, and how to find and play it yourself.

The Wildly Influential History of Atari Breakout

Atari Breakout is considered one of the most important video games of all time. Originally designed by Atari co-founders Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow, it was released in 1976 as a single-player arcade game.

The concept for Breakout was inspired by the company‘s first hit, Pong. Bushnell wanted to create a single-player version of Pong, using a wall of bricks as targets instead of another player.

Breakout built upon Pong‘s gameplay in a few key ways:

  • Bricks were arranged in different patterns across multiple screens or levels.
  • The ball moved at different angles and speeds.
  • Power-ups sometimes appeared to let players shoot or otherwise modify the ball.

Atari‘s innovative cabinet design also made waves in the industry. Its angled screen was meant to evoke ping pong, bringing a tactile physicality to the digital experience.

Breakout was an immediate commercial success, with over 35,000 units sold. It helped establish Atari as the fastest-growing company in U.S. history at the time.

Historical sales figures for Atari Breakout arcade units:

  • 13,000 units sold in 1976 at $995 per unit
  • 22,000 more units sold in 1977 at $1195 per unit

Atari later ported Breakout to home consoles like the Atari 2600, where it sold over 2 million copies.

Over four decades later, Breakout still appears on "most influential video games of all time" lists, along with classics like Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Pac-Man.

Some key milestones and honors for Atari Breakout include:

  • 2010 induction into the World Video Game Hall of Fame
  • 2022 featured exhibit at The Strong National Museum of Play
  • One of the Video Game Hall of Fame‘s 12 founding inductees

Beyond sales, Breakout helped spawn an entire genre focused on breaking on-screen bricks and blocks. The "bat-and-ball" genre includes derivatives like Alleyway, Arkanoid, and Breakout clones.

This simple yet addictive format became a video game archetype replicated by countless developers. Breakout‘s DNA lives on today in popular mobile apps like Brick Breaker.

Google Honors an Arcade Icon with a Hidden Easter Egg

In May 2013, Google released an interactive Easter egg version of Atari Breakout embedded right in Google Image Search.

This rare Easter egg was much more than a visual gag or trick. It allowed users to actually play a functional version of the arcade classic.

Google introduced it in celebration of Breakout‘s 37th anniversary. According to Tristan Marriott, Search Engineer, "We thought it would be fun to celebrate the anniversary by letting users play the game on Google Images."

To access the Easter egg, users just had to search for "Atari Breakout" on Google Image Search. The resulting photos would shrink into a wall of bricks, transforming into a playable Breakout game.

Gameplay worked just like the original, with a paddle controlled by the mouse to bounce a ball up at the bricks. The Google Doodle team handcrafted the art and physics to match the 1970s arcade experience.

This kind of robust, interactive Easter egg requires considerable engineering work. Google has a culture of encouraging creativity and side projects through policies like 20% time. Marriott explained:

“Occasionally fun things do come from the 20% time that most Google engineers enjoy. The Easter eggs represent the wonderful coded creativity that abounds here at Google.”

Unfortunately, the Atari Breakout Easter egg was not designed to be permanent. According to Marriott, it was "intended to be up just for the anniversary period."

After a brief run, Google retired the Easter egg. But Atari fans had gotten a taste of playing this icon right from Google Search.

A Legacy of Hidden Games and Easter Eggs

While the Atari Breakout game is gone, it represents the spirit of surprise and delight that has been part of Google since the early days.

Google‘s first ever Easter egg dates back to 1999. Typing "cookie" would prompt the search page to ask "Do you want a cookie?" in a fortune cookie graphic.

Since then, Google Easter eggs have become more complex and plentiful. Typing "do a barrel roll" still makes the page spin in homage to Peppy from Starfox. And "zerg rush" summons tiny Os that overwhelm search results with clicking chaos.

Some other iconic Google Easter eggs over the years include:

  • Google Gravity: Alters search page gravity, letting you drop letters with your cursor.
  • Conway‘s Game of Life: Plays the famous cellular automaton simulation.
  • DVD Screensaver: Lets you "bounce" the Google logo like a DVD screensaver.
  • Atari Breakout: The iconic bat-and-ball arcade game playable on Image Search.
  • Pac-Man: Play a version of Pac-Man directly on Google Maps.
  • Snake: The classic snake game was integrated into image search, maps, and even Gmail.

While fun and unexpected, Easter eggs can be disruptive if accidentally triggered. They also require ongoing engineering work to maintain – resources better spent on core products.

So Google usually retires these hidden features after a short run centered around major events or anniversaries. Fans may be disappointed, but it allows Google to focus on its central mission.

Of course, that doesn‘t stop enthusiasts from resurrecting them elsewhere…

Playing Atari Breakout Today on Elgoog

While you can no longer play Atari Breakout directly on Google, some clever developers have preserved working versions of it.

The most robust homage is hosted at Elgoog. This site lets you play an exact replica of the Google‘s Atari Breakout Easter egg straight from your browser.

To play Breakout on Elgoog:

  1. Go to

  2. Use your mouse to control the paddle at the bottom.

  3. Bounce the ball off the paddle to break the bricks at the top.

  4. Clear all the bricks to advance to the next level.

The gameplay mechanics mirror the original arcade edition. All the sounds, physics, and graphics induce seventies nostalgia.

Gif of Atari Breakout gameplay on Elgoog

Elgoog was created to resurrect classic Google Easter eggs. It also hosts restored versions of other retired games like Pac-Man, Snake, and the Google Gravity sandbox.

The site explains:

"We always felt sad when Google removed Easter Eggs that brought back fun memories. So we decided to bring them back ourselves for your nostalgic playing pleasure."

Through Elgoog, the Breakout Easter egg lives on as a nostalgic treat. Who knows? Its continued popularity may even convince Google to bring it back some anniversary.

Reliving Retro Glory with Atari Breakout

Though gone from Google, Atari Breakout remains one of gaming‘s most timeless hits. Its frustratingly addictive bat-and-block gameplay never gets old.

Thanks to the original Google Easter egg and spiritual successors like Elgoog, it‘s easy to re-experience this arcade classic straight from your browser.

Take a quick break to bounce that pixelated ball and shatter vibrant bricks. With its simple but compelling format, Atari Breakout offers retro gaming magic that appeals across generations.

So next time you feel like tapping into seventies nostalgia, load up a round or two. Atari Breakout forever remains the Internet‘s go-to bat-and-ball stress reliever.