Remember the 1976 hit Breakout? Probably not. But you may well remember the title that brought the block breaker genre to the forefront of gaming arcades in the 1980s. Chief among them being Taito’s Arkanoid and Nintendo’s Alleyway. The genre fell out of fashion for quite some. Most likely due to its simplistic gameplay. But now, Pixel Bones Studio hopes to breath new life into it with the release of Dungeonoid 2 Awakening.

The game begins with a short introduction to the story. An evil priest is summoning a demon. Not just any demon in fact, but the most powerful demon ever. How or why is not really important. In fact, none of the loose and unoriginal story is. The fact that its thinner than a wet piece of paper is largely irrelevant. What does matter is the core gameplay loop. And that is one that has stood the test of time.

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening screenshot

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening is trying to do for Arkanoid clones what Puzzle Quest did for Match-3 puzzle games. There are four characters to choose from, each with slightly different stats. The Priest is fast, the Paladin slow. The Sorcerer has a powerful special attack, while the Amazon is a good all-rounder. While the differences may seem negligible to begin, once some progress has been made you’ll quickly choose a favourite.

The game plays as would be expected of an Arkanoid clone. The player controls a paddle at the bottom of the screen and must rebound a ball to destroy blocks and objects. The twist however, is that destroying blocks – for the most part, at least – is not actually essential to progress. This merely grants you the opportunity to gain new power-ups, of which there are a lot. What is essential is taking out the enemies that appear, including the occasional boss fight.

Of course, you as the player have little control of the ball. You can only rebound it, and must use either end of the paddle to adjust the angle at which it returns to the playing field. However, you also have two abilities that can be used to even the odds.

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening screenshot

The first is a cooldown restricted attack that is launched from the ball. This allows it to hit a wider area (more blocks or enemies it would have otherwise skimmed by). The second is controlled by your mana gauge, and launched from your paddle itself. This is a significantly more destructive attack, and is different for each of the four characters. Recharging it requires the collection or power-ups, so its use is recommended only for boss fights or in times of dire need.

That’s pretty much all there is to Dungeonoid 2 Awakening. It’s an interesting new take on an old genre, but not one that will blow your mind. The alternating pathways (including sideways) may stump you at first, but you’ll soon adapt. And you’ll adapt to the RPG-lite mechanics pretty quickly. The question is, will Arkanoid purists welcome the additions? Likely not. But more casual fans of the genre may well miss them when they’re gone.

Categories: Games