1001 BlockBusters Review
Posted by Philip J Reed
1001 ways to say "meh"
101 Dolphin Pets. 101 Shark Pets. 1001 Crystal Mazes Collection. And now 1001 BlockBusters. Teyon sure tends to feel a great deal of pride for the sheer amount of content it packs into every release. But playing this most recent game, at least, it's difficult not to wish that it'd aim for smaller, more refined experiences than vast and unfocused ones.
1001 BlockBusters is exactly what it claims to be. There are 1001 stages in which you bust blocks. There are also three different modes, which is nice, but the core block-busting experience is the same among all of them.
Anyone who's played Breakout, Arkanoid or any of hundreds of similar games will know what to expect here. This game doesn't seek to expand the genre in any real way — though it does have a few interesting quirks that we'll get to in time — it just wants to give you more of the same.
And since Breakout and Arkanoid are both fantastic games, that's not a problem. The problem comes with the execution.
For starters, the levels of the game are divided amongst four worlds: Ancient Greece, Stone Age, Candy World and Fantasy Forest. You don't need to do the maths to see that this means there are a lot of stages in each world. This is part of the problem; when you need to play through hundreds of stages before you see some variety, you're going to get quite bored very quickly.
The two extra modes available are Choose Game and Random Game, which will allow you to see those other worlds much sooner. In Choose Game, you can play any stage that you've unlocked, with several stages from each world unlocked from the start. Random Game, as you might guess, chooses a world and stage for you at random. The trouble with these other worlds, though, is that the only difference between them is cosmetic, and that's a major problem of the game itself.
The blocks in any world are designed differently — flowers, water, bricks, flagpoles, fences — but they don't behave differently. This is a missed opportunity. As interesting as it might be to smash these things up separately, the fact that they don't feel any different in the actual course of gameplay means that the variety they offer is illusory. When water and stone react the same way, you might as well not distinguish between water and stone at all.
As you might imagine, you move your paddle back and forth along the bottom of the screen, rebounding balls back up to destroy the bricks, or flowers, or whatever. This aspect of the game works fine, but other aspects of 1001 BlockBusters conspire to make it a less than satisfying experience.
First of all, the game is quite glitchy. Power-ups have fallen regularly fallen through our paddles and the ball has inexplicably sailed through bricks without affecting them. The soundtrack — brief and irritating as it is — has a nasty habit of increasing sharply in volume at strange intervals, whether you like it or not. And — while probably not technically a glitch — the optional touch-screen controls allow your paddle to "teleport" wherever you tap rather than actually having to travel there, thereby eliminating all need for forethought in a genre that should thrive on it, and making the game far easier than it has any real right to be.
The fact that the playing field faces the bricks head on (rather than the traditional view from above) is a nice novelty until you realise one thing: when you're only seeing the front row of bricks, it doesn't matter how they're arranged behind. Any potentially interesting level designs are obscured by the front row, turning the entire experience into a featureless slog. In fact, one of the game's "power downs" causes the board to rotate to different angles, making the ball more difficult to hit. You'll want to collect this item, though, because without it you'll never get to see what the level actually looks like.
1001 BlockBusters does have a few positive elements. The sheer amount of levels is worth taking into account, as are the save slots, allowing up to three people to pick up exactly where they left off. The game also allows you to stack up to four power-ups at a time, though the fact that most of the power-ups have short timers means that you'll rarely fill up your allotted slots.
On the whole, 1001 BlockBusters is not a bad game, but it's not nearly the most fun you can have with a brick breaker, nor is it anywhere near the most fun you can have in its price-range on DSiWare. For a game that boasts 1001 levels, you'd really expect a lot more variety. As it stands, it feels more like one level repeated 1001 times, and that's not something worth advertising.
Subscribing bizarrely to the idea of "quantity over quality," a philosophy reinforced by even the title of the game, 1001 BlockBusters is more interested in providing a lengthy experience than a particularly memorable one. Ultimately, it's an average game diminished by its own bugs, glitches, and largesse. For the discount price tag it may still be worth it for those dying for a brick breaker, but there's not much here worth recommending to anyone else. 1001 apologies, Teyon.