Posted by Marcel van Duyn
The poor man's Arkanoid
The most well-known block-breaking game, Arkanoid, became quite popular after its release in arcades in 1986. Many companies have created clones, and even to this day new low-budget ones show up all the time. Even Nintendo tried their hand at a clone with Alleyway for the Game Boy.
Alleyway keeps things to the bare basics. No power-ups or special, different blocks — all you do here is bounce the ball with your paddle in an attempt to break all the blocks on the screen. The only additional form of challenge rears its head if you take too long in beating a stage, causing blocks to descend after the ball hits your paddle a certain amount of times.
After every three regular stages, you'll get a breather as you're presented with a bonus stage, where the ball will automatically go through all blocks instead of bouncing off, and there's no penalty if you don't clear all blocks or lose the ball — you'll simply go to the next regular stage without a point bonus.
The most interesting thing Alleyway has to offer is the fact that there's a heavy dose of Mario cameos in the game. If you pay attention when starting the game, you'll actually see that Mario himself jumps into the paddle and pilots it, and many of the bonus stages are shaped like Mario characters, such as Mario himself, Bowser, and a Goomba.
Aside from the Mario cameos, though, Alleyway has almost nothing to offer over Arkanoid and even some of its other clones. There's only 24 stages total, which never introduce anything new, and after beating the game you'll just start over with slightly faster descending blocks.
Visually the game is extremely basic, but the Mario formations in the bonus stages at least add a small amount of flair. There's really no music to speak of as the only things in the game that could be considered music play during the bonus stages and ending, and they're just five second loops. Every other piece of music in the game is a simple jingle that plays when you start a level or lose a ball.
Aside from the Mario appearances, there's not much to say about Alleyway. At its best, it's simply Arkanoid without all the fluff, and if you grew up with it you might get a kick out of replaying it, but if you're looking for something substantial it's probably best to grab AlphaBounce on DSiWare or Arkanoid Plus! on WiiWare for some much more compelling block breaking.