Block Breaker Deluxe Review
Block Breaker Deluxe box art
System: Wii (WiiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Gameloft 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Gameloft 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: June 16, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Sometimes old games retain their charm. But more often, they simply feel dated, or worse, raise the question, "How did people find this entertaining?" The latter is the case with Block Breaker Deluxe, a sad attempt to revitalize the 1976 arcade classic Breakout (or if you prefer, the arcade classic Arkanoid from a decade later).

Block Breaker Deluxe screenshot

Of course, it's a familiar setup: there are some blocks on the screen, with a Pong-style paddle at the bottom; the player moves the paddle horizontally to meet a ball and bounce it into the blocks. If the player misses the ball and it escapes via the bottom of the screen, they lose a turn. When all the blocks are gone, it's time for the next level. Even the low-resolution graphics and terrible funk/disco music evoke times past.

But BBD is a WiiWare title, not a Virtual Console download, meaning that it's a new product rather than a port from a classic system. Indeed, there are some innovations that, for a few minutes at least, can hold a cynical gamer's attention in 2008.

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First is the weird, tacky '80s theme. After the very modern-looking, 3-D introduction of the Gameloft logo, one gets the sense he's playing a fighting game from two decades ago. The story is that there's a Block Breaker tournament with a high entry fee, and to raise the money, you have to overcome a series of challenges in nightclubs for profit. Each nightclub is a level, and success unlocks various items (including a statue of a naked woman) and additional clubs. To go with the old-school-fighting-game atmosphere, the club's owner taunts the player before each set of blocks, and blurts out annoying exclamations during play.

Second, and more important, there are many types of blocks. Some take several hits to disappear, and others are metallic and nearly unbreakable, serving mainly as obstacles - the player must angle the ball around the metallic blocks to take out the more fragile ones and pass the level.

Block Breaker Deluxe screenshot

Some of the blocks contain power-ups though, and that's where the problems start. To control the paddle, players use the pointer function of the Wii-mote, and it works pretty well for the most part (sometimes it can be hard to hold the paddle steady). To control the icon that collects the power-ups, players use the pointer function of the Wii-mote again. Horizontally, the paddle and pointer are always in the same place; players can move the pointer vertically as well.

As a result, if a power-up is on one side of the screen, the only way to get it is to move the paddle to that side, whether the ball is there or not. Especially if the ball is moving quickly, doing so will often cost a turn, which kills the power-up. Having the pointer as a second option for collecting power-ups is nice (on the old games, players could only catch them on the paddles), but it ends up being more of a distraction than an aid.

Block Breaker Deluxe screenshot

Screenshots / Images
Block Breaker Deluxe screenshot - click to enlarge Block Breaker Deluxe screenshot - click to enlarge Block Breaker Deluxe screenshot - click to enlarge Block Breaker Deluxe screenshot - click to enlarge

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