Review by Mikaa

"US$20 for an Alleyway/Breakout clone for the DS? What's that, 3,000,000 boards? Sold!"

What is there to say about a game that is basically Alleyway/Breakout/Akanroid for the DS? It's true to form, useable controls, and easy to pick up and play. Just like the source materials.

What? You have no idea what Breakout or Alleyway are? Ah, that's right: those were big-name games back in the good ol' days, back when the big games were released in places we called "arcades," where we used all manner of controllers to play our games.

But these were not your big brother's Street Fighter arcade machines, or your dad's Donkey Kong. No, not your grandfather's Space Wars. I'm talking about one of the old Atari classics (in the case of Breakout, anyway), where the object of the game is to control a paddle at the bottom of the screen. By moving this paddle, you try to keep a constantly moving ball from going into the void below your paddle. Above is a wave of bricks, where you must destrtoy them to move on.

Simple? That's what I said years ago on a Breakout-type game called Akarnoid (and I KNOW I am mispelling that), which saw variou options thrown in. And what was Alleyway? The only copy I have personally played was a release on the ol' Nintendo Game Boy, where Mario controlled the paddle. There's your useless triva of the day.

What does all this have to do with Break 'Em All? For starters, Break 'Em All is basically the same game as the above, with the notable exception of touch screen features.

That's it. Same game at the core, just different graphics and power-ups.

To be fair, the designers did a fantastic job of recreating a typical SNES-like backdrop for the levels, and the foreground graphics look stellar on the DS Lite. Once in a while using the stylus to control your paddle will be clumbersome, and good luck using the L and R buttons to control said paddle with the standard controls. D-Pad is not available for use, and while L and R work great for pinball games, same cannot be said of a Breakout game.

Power ups are the standard fare, with a Speed Up, Slow Down, Catch, Mirror (bounce the ball back on the exact path it came), Laser (shoot through the bricks), Bomb (blast surrounding bricks), Force field, Wide paddle, and a handful of others. Stages vary on "themes," which usually (like Alleyway) are modeled after objects or animals (though I doubt we'll see Alleyway's Mario board). Best of all, though, are the 3,000,000 boards you can play on.

Let that sink in: Three MILLION tables to play on.

And that's just in standard mode (which comes in Skill or Random flavors). There is a quest mode of sorts, though it is limited to removing the blocks from an exit, sending ball through said exit, then facing a boss. While nowhere near as fun as bouncing on Bowser's head for the first time in the New Super Mario Bros. game, the bosses are amusing.

Aurally, the sounds are typical fare, and typical unlicensed music post-SNES. IE, the music quality has some good points, some bad points. At least the FX are nice.

Replay has higher than usual value, as there is actual Download play in addition to normal multi-card play. And for US$19.99, this is a steal if you are an old-school gamer or wish you could replicate the roller ball better than a D-pad.

In short, this is a great nostalgic title for the DS, all the better giving how simmilar it is to the great Breakouts of the day. The only real way to improve on this would be to add in games that had different uses for the game engine. Oh, wait, they did. Sadly, that mode is not worht printing here; let's just say I have no idea what was going on.

Score: 8 of 10

+ Best Features:
+Graphics
+Controls
+3,000,000 boards
+US$20
+Download Play

- Worst Features:
-"Battle" Mode
-May be too old school for some

* If You Liked:
Alleyway (Game Boy)
Atari Retro Collection (DS)
Breakout (Atari 2600 to the PS2 and Xbox; it's on virtually every system)
Breakout 2000 (Atari Jaguar)
Akarnoid (Arcade)

* Guilty Pleasure: Realizing just how good this was, then realizing how low the price was. Well worth the loss of the two-week's food allotment, no?


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/27/06, Updated 11/20/07

Game Release: Break 'Em All (US, 06/20/06)


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