Gameloft’s Block Breaker Deluxe is basically a Breakout clone with some special wiimote controls and a very awkward nightlife club hopping presentation. Although creative and entertaining, it is not without its flaws.
Block Breaker has reached many platforms throughout the years including cell phones and iPods with the latest iteration hitting Nintendo’s WiiWare. Like a single player version of Pong, the player controls a paddle at the base of the screen with the task of keeping a ball from falling off screen. Unlike tennis, the player must eliminate every brick on screen by bouncing the ball at them. Along the way, power-ups will make your job easier and spice up gameplay.
This is definitely one of the more enjoyable versions of the Breakout-style genre. A big part of this lies within the unique wiimote control. Instead of using a typical d-pad to move the paddle left and right, the player aims the wiimote left and right. But this still leaves the cursor free to roam the entire screen. Like Super Mario Galaxy, the player “waves over” falling objects to collect them instead of waiting for them to fall all the way to the bottom of the screen and catching them with the paddle. It is a little awkward aiming the wiimote pointer at the screen while controlling the lateral movement of the paddle especially since the game doesn’t register movement when the cursor goes off screen, but with a little practice, it is easily seen how much this enhances gameplay.
The power-ups are a main ingredient to the overall entertainment of this game. All the typical enhancements are here: larger paddle, multiball, magnetic/sticky ball, barrier to prevent the ball from “dying,” and a laser gun. But one of the newest features in this title is the yo-yo ball. Tapping the “A” button causes the ball to cut back, breaking unbreakable metal bricks. The wiimote can also be used like a light gun, targeting specific bricks on screen. Although not a power-up, sometimes bricks will break and new explode-able ones will pop up. Once hit, all surrounding bricks will ignite in one huge explosion. All these features are found in just about every level, keeping gameplay at a fast, more exciting pace.
While the gameplay is a solid experience, the game’s biggest downfall is the overall presentation. Everything has a neon glow, as if you are playing in Las Vegas in the middle of the night. The story mode is very strange too. It is as if the player is traveling from night club to night club to play Breakout. Martinis, bars, sunglasses, bright lights, bikinis, hot chicks…none of it really fits the mood of this brick busting sim. Collecting fancy jews, bikinis, and other high end expensive stuff just doesn’t really make sense. While adding this atmosphere to the game gives it some flair, I can’t help but feel that it is just unnecessary. I admit that even Arknoid: Doh It Again had a story line (the paddle is actually a space ship on a mission to stop a giant tiki head), but this game didn’t wallow in it. The bright neon glow of the entire game is just an annoying distraction.
The game’s boss battles have some problems too. Each one provides a different type of challenge, but again, they just don’t seem to fit the game’s neon flair. Why is this club hopper telling me to challenge the boss that he made? Shouldn’t he be busy drinking booze and being social at the club rather than programming a robot to shoot down my paddle? One of my biggest complaints is a level that is labeled as a boss stage, even though there isn’t really a boss. Instead, the screen slowly falls down toward the player like a game of Space Invaders. But each row is composed of unbreakable metal blocks, except for one red block. Once you hit this red block, that entire row disappears, playing almost like a reverse game of Tetris. Even after playing this stage a dozen times, I still could not get passed it. And I couldn’t go any further in the main game until I beat this stage. The off balancing in this stage alone is enough to turn the Wii’s power off.
Despite its flaws, Brick Breaker Deluxe is an entertaining game for the $8 purchase price. While not enough to make you look away, the off-putting “night club hopping” theme is enough to make players scratch their heads and simply ask the question “why?” The wiimote control is quite unique for this game and makes a decent replacement for the typical paddle control. Although there is no online mode, the two player option also gives this game a little extra replay value as well. If you need to get a fix of a modernized version of the classic Breakout gameplay, Brick Breaker Deluxe is a great place to look.