|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|
Also, the power-ups just aren't all that innovative, with many coming straight from Arkanoid. One clones the ball twice, leaving three balls bouncing around until, inevitably, a few seconds later, two are lost down the bottom of the screen. Another equips the paddle with a laser that's fired with the A button. A third makes the ball stick to the paddle each time the two make contact, which is more time-consuming than useful (as it was in Arkanoid). The most annoying makes the paddle invisible, while the most clever turns the ball into a yo-yo the player can call back. Still others are bizarre bonus items, like jewelry.
The level designs are interesting enough, with the different types of blocks used to good effect. Some setups even evolve - when the player hits certain switches, more blocks pop in. Boss battles add an extra element.
But when it comes right down to it, the player is still just chasing a ball with a paddle, and it's a bit too difficult. Continues are unlimited, but one forfeits a lot of money in using one. Advancing through the game without re-playing old levels for cash, it's not at all hard to bottom out at $0.
If there's a particularly generous or easily entertained friend nearby, they can grab a second Wii-mote for a competition. The second paddle runs across the top of the screen, and each player's goal is to take out as many blocks as possible without losing the ball, which can escape past the paddle as in single-player mode, but can also head to the other side of the screen, where the opponent can use it to collect points.
The pointer gets even more frustrating here because if one player unlocks a power-up, it's all but guaranteed that the other player (who doesn't need to worry about rebounding the ball) will get it. And one imagines that younger siblings will be tempted to wave the icon around in an attempt to annoy and distract an opponent.
Most obnoxious is that each multiplayer level has only two rounds, and the tie-breaker round is a few rows of normal blocks sandwiched between rows of metallic ones. It's sufficiently maddening that each competitor hopes the other will win just to end the misery.
These underwhelming modernizations raise the question: Why make a whole new title? Even if the '80s-style presentation succeeds in invoking some nostalgia, it's reminiscent of a completely different kind of game, and regardless, it's just not the same as having the original Breakout or Arkanoid on the screen. A straight port would have been more likely to capture older gamers, familiar with the classics; hopefully, that's who Gameloft was going for, because the 21-year-old we enlisted to help test the multiplayer mode commented dejectedly, "This is what parents who don't want their kids to make friends or have fun buy them."
The bottom line is Block Breaker Deluxe is a boring Breakout/Arkanoid rip-off in a long line of boring Breakout/Arkanoid rip-offs. There is a place for such a thing: it's nice to play this type of game for free online, or on a cell phone during a commute to work (apparently, BBD was quite successful as a mobile download before coming to Wii). But as a WiiWare title costing 800 points, BBD has to compete with every Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis port available on the Virtual Console - and just about any of those games would constitute a better use of $8. It's not that tough choosing between a mind-numbing, 30-year-old timewaster and Super Metroid.
CCC Freelance Writer