fishdalf's Alleyway (Game Boy) review

Proved hard to put down.


For those who have experienced such games as Breakout and Ankroid you will be very familiar with the concept of Alleyway, you controlled a small paddle with the aim of hitting a constellation of bricks with a ball. Each brick you hit disappeared until the whole screen was void of bricks, once acheived you moved onto the next level which became that little bit harder. Let the ball drop below your paddle and you lost a life, once all your lives were gone you started the whole thing over again in the hopes of bettering your level. This may not have seem like much but the gameplay was highly addictive and would prove hard to put down, attempting time after time to better your previous efforts.

Alleyway was originally released in 1989 as a GameBoy launch title and while it wasn't wholey original it did give gamers an alternative to the Tetris craze that was sweeping a gaming nation. The game featured Mario who if you look closely enough was the pilot of your small paddle, everytime you lost a life he appeared to jump ship before facing almost certain doom. There were a few other Nintendo subtleties thrown in such as the cameo of certain famous faces each time a bonus stage rolled around but nothing that was really groing to whet your appetite.

The level system was also very simplistic but varied thing's just enough to keep you interested, the first stage and every three levels thereafter would see the pattern of the bricks remain stationary. The second stage and every three levels thereafter would proceed to move the bricks from one side of the screen to the other, the third stage and every three levels thereafter would see the whole level move down a tier after the ball hits your paddle a certain number of times. Lastly every fourth level featured a bonus stage with previously mentioned Nintendo characters, completing these within a set time gained you an extra life and the chance of progressing further.

While the gameplay remains solid to this day the graphics just didn't cut it back then, for the period of time this game was released they could have done so much better. The audio follows a simiar trend and doesn't even feature a soundtrack, the only sounds heard are the clinks of the ball as it hits various objects around the screen. The game didn't keep you interested for all that long either, there is one mode and one mode only so unless you planned on playing it for short periods of time then thing's would get stale pretty fast. What Alleyway did though was something pretty impressive: it gave Tetris a run for it's money no matter how short-lived that proved to be.
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