Break 'em All
Ok, so maybe its an Aranoid clone, but it's a really really sweet Arkanoid clone. Sign us up.
Another day, another news headline regarding inappropriate teacher/student conduct, another handheld remake churned out for a quick buck. Some things just never change! With the help of development house Warashi, publisher D3 is bringing back the classic-if-not-dated concept of Arkanoid, also popularized as "Breakout". Can the old school classic stand the test of time in today's complex, and graphics obsessed world?
Chances are if you've been remotely involved with gaming for the past decade and a half, you've played at least one incarnation of Arkanoid. The game's premise is extremely simple, with players controlling a paddle at the bottom of the screen in an attempt to keep a pinball in play. To win the game, players must eliminate a series of bricks located above the paddle, by strategically striking them with well-placed ricochets of the pinball. It's a very simple idea, with even simpler execution. But that doesn't make it easy, especially in the later levels where the ball speeds up, and the brick patterns become increasingly complex.
Seriously though, once you've played one version of Arkanoid, it seems like you've played them all. I thought that too, that is until I learned about Break'em All's insane randomly generated fest that is Tokoton mode. Reportedly, this mode features well over 25,000 different levels; perfect for those of you who simply can't get enough block busting madness. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's also Quest mode, an appropriately named trek throughout various dungeons, with a cool boss battle waiting for you at the conclusion of things. The bosses feature a look and feel that makes them seem as if they were ripped right out of a 16-bit Sega Genesis title, and frankly, we love the look of it.
One of the sweet things about Break 'Em All's gameplay, is the ability to earn, and/or select various power-ups that give you an edge during play. The power-ups give players the ability to initiate a bevy of conditions on the game at hand - and during my E3 play test, I experienced plenty of them. You name it, the ability to slow down the ball, split the ball into multiple block busting devices of destruction, and create an additional stationary paddle to help fight the good fight, it's all here. Once again, those of you with a background in Arkanoid will likely remember some of the very same power-ups form that game.
The main difference that the DS version of Break 'Em All has when comparing it to that of its console ancestors, is the obvious change in control. Gone are the days of navigating your paddle with archaic presses of the d-pad. No, Break 'Em All features stylus control to navigate your paddle left and right, simply by holding the stylus to the touch screen, and dragging it somewhere along its x-axis. Your paddle moves as fast as you can swipe your stylus, and I'm ecstatic to report that I experienced precise handling and control with nil sign of latency.
So, is Break 'Em All the definitive version of Arkanoid? Well, of course you'll have to wait until our full review to find that out! We can say that things are looking up for D3's handheld publishing ventures as of late, (they also had the popular game simply entitled -- WTF --running next to this game) and Break 'Em All is no exception. Not only does it feature two solid modes with Quest and Tokoton modes, but it also features a Survival mode and multiplayer support for up to seven of your closest friends. I believe that at the right price point, and I'm thinking sub $20 budget title here folks, Break 'Em All can become a worthy purchase once its June 20th release date rolls around.