Nervous Brickdown

August 17, 2007

Nervous Brickdown borrows a lot from arcade classics like Arkanoid and Breakout. Sadly, it doesn’t copy the one thing it really needs: consistency. Nervous Brickdown is short, and the levels go by quickly. This is normal for an Arkanoid clone. What isn’t normal is that after a few levels of Nervous Brickdown the game shifts gameplay concepts. In the initial stages, for example, you’re playing the classics: moving a paddle along the bottom of the screen to destroy the blocks at the top. Then some new block types like bumpers and oddly shaped transparent, translucent, and finally solid blocks are introduced. Things are going well, and you’re adjusting to these new elements when suddenly you’re fighting a boss. Once the boss goes down it’s time to change everything up and turn the game world into paper where you have to draw your own paddle.

Things get very confusing very quickly, and the only real problem presented is that instead of giving us five separate game modes Arkedo Studio has piled each and every one of their ideas into Brickdown‘s Arcade mode. I would have much rather seen a Classic Mode, a Paper Mode, a Haunted House Mode, a Boss Rush Mode, and so on. Exacerbating the sour taste left in one’s mouth from the lack of modes is the game’s length. If each level set were its own mode then the game wouldn’t only take an hour and a half to work through. Games shouldn’t be that short – especially on the first attempt.

The graphics are pleasant, and the music is great. The haunted house levels sound creepy and the classic levels sound like the wasted days of my youth spent in the arcades of yesteryear. Unfortunately, the game just doesn’t stand up to today’s standards. Arkanoid and Breakout are fun for roughly ten minutes. That’s why they were arcade games. You could get all the requisite fun for an evening out of them with one quarter.

Multiplayer is novel, and you only need one DS chip, but it suffers from the same shortcomings as single player. It’s just not engrossing. To Arkedo Studio’s credit, though, the multiplayer is cooperative, which is a rare and welcome sight. Unfortunately, the multiplayer is ad hoc only – Nintendo’s WiFi service isn’t supported. How do two people cooperate at Nervous Brickdown? Well, the paddle changes colors. If the paddle is blue then you can make contact with the ball while your teammate can’t; if the paddle is yellow then your friend is the only one who can hit the ball. Interesting idea, but it won’t hold you for long – especially since both players can move the paddle at all times making the multiplayer more trouble than it’s worth.

Nervous Brickdown is a good update to the standard hit-the-ball-and-destroy-the-blocks game, but it’s just not enough to keep gamers going. If you have an undying urge to smash bricks then this game is as good as any, but for everybody else there’s really nothing special here.

Score: 2/5

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