REVIEW: Break ’em All

Break 'em All for DS

The first few reviews I write for this site are going to be of my favorite games, so it’ll seem like I love everything that the DS has to offer. This is not true, as I have played the likes of glitchy Bubble Bobble, Harvest Moon, and Horsez, as well as other games which are not game-breaking glitchy, but just bad. But yes, this game is one of my favorites, and is also in my top 5 DS game choices.

This may be the best DS game you are not playing. Willy tells me that this is not a puzzle game but in the genre known as “breakout clone,” but I say that’s not true (edit from 3 years later: it totally is true) and you should be playing this instead of Meteos, Magnetica, or even Tetris. It’s extremely simple, and plays like a combination of breakout and Gradius, where you get a powerup system like Gradius merged with your breakout. It’s a budget game, and I just found out it’s also part of the “Simple DS” series, so the only reason you should not buy this is because it’s out of print, and even then track down a copy, because it’s totally worth it.

There’s a couple gameplay modes on this, and I may get these slightly wrong since I don’t have the game turned on right now, but rest assured you can play all these on this cartridge plus a couple I haven’t even tried yet. One’s a kind of freeplay mode where the levels are randomly generated (which is kinda hard and silly since the generator doesn’t seem to discriminate against block type), one’s a mode where you play a boss round every few levels which is okay, one’s a multiplayer mode which is insanely hard, and one is the mode I play which is called Tokoton, but is basically a mode where you “evolve” through ten different transformations, but I can’t figure out if the evolutions are time-based or point-based.  I think they are the latter.  Anyway, the transformations don’t have much bearing on game play outside of being cool, but the point of that is that you wind up as Jesus at the end. There are 50 or 60 levels that you play through that loop back to the beginning once you clear the last one, but the later ones are pretty hard to beat. I’ve seriously played this game for 3 or so hours on one round. It’s amazing.

You don’t need much more of a gameplay explanation outside breakout clone, but the powerups you cycle through include speed up/down, reflective or sticky paddle, multiball where three stay in play or five disappear when they hit the bricks, a safety net or an option, and explosion or laser ball. You choose one of the two for each bracket at the beginning of the round, then you stick with it throughout the round.

It’s fun. And get this: there are over 3,000,000 boards on the cartridge. You’ll be playing this game forever.

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