When you think "zen," odds are your mind goes to little bonsai trees and smooth rocks littered about. There might even be a small frog hanging out on a water lily as cherry blossom petals sprinkle the pond. When applied to a game you'd expect a slower pace and possibly some cherry blossom petals, but Enjoy's Bounce & Break proves that when applied to a type of game commonly associated with action and speed the whole zen schtick does more harm than good.
Intentions certainly are well here, as Bounce & Break hits on all the expected Arkanoid-style pillars: unbreakable obstacles; standard power-ups that change the size of the paddle, increase speed, triplicate the amount of balls in play, and so forth; and lots and lots of bricks. All in all pretty standard stuff, but, very zen-like, everything here is much slower paced than other games of its ilk. Agonisingly slow even, as some stages seem to go on forever.
There are a few tweaks to the formula that try to mix things up. Unlike a typical Arkanoid setup, the bricks in need of smashing aren't all just sitting at the top of the screen static-like. Instead the game scrolls like a shoot-em-up, with more blocks and obstacles moving downward from the top screen. Holding Down on the D-Pad lets you speed up the scrolling some for when there's nothing left to whack, which turns out to be a blessing of an addition as the scrolling happens way too slow on its own.
Then there's the new Orientation mode, which allows you to move the paddle with the stylus and tilt it with either the D-Pad or face buttons. It's a neat idea and helps improve accuracy, but it feels like a bandage for the overly harsh physics that cause the ball to cut too hard, too easy and too often. Coupled with the slower pace, a bad bounce can take what seems like an eternity to return to the paddle. And while novel, controlling Orientation feels clunky to this reviewer, but that could ultimately be a matter of personal preference.
The presentation goes whole-hog on the zen theme as well. Stages are suitably and stereotypically Japanese, and there are even periodic season-appropriate flurry overlays of leaves or snow during the game. While novel at first, during some seasons these flurries cause a lot of visual confusion, particularly during the winter seasons when white snow covers a blue and white backdrop as you try to hit snow-covered bricks with your blue and white ball.
Try as it does, Bounce & Break never rises above unremarkable and ultimately feels hollow. Compared to AlphaBounce's hojillion stages the dozen here seems piddly, and the slower pace can lead to long bouts of boredom as you try to get around obstacles and hit those few remaining pesky bricks. Unless you're sold on the theme, we'd recommend looking elsewhere for a bout of Arkanoid.