The Big Breakout

Nervous Brickdown
Gameplay
graphics
audio
value
fun
Genre
Reviewed On
Nintendo DS
Available For
Difficulty
Intermediate
Publisher(s)
Developer(s)
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There’s a lot to be smack-talking about in Nintendo country these days. Finally, the highly-anticipated Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has hit store shelves and Samus fans have bunkered down and put "no vacancy" signs on their bedroom doors. To make matters even more spine tingling other big hitter titles like "Mario Galaxies" and "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" for the Wii as well as "The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass" for the DS handheld are now not so far off in the very near and foreseeable future.

The big question, however, is how will hardcore fans endure the tumultuous waiting and nail-biting fits between all of these hit titles set to release in the coming days and months? Well let me take this time to introduce you to a brand new wacky, original, and highly addictive title for the DS platform that is sure to challenge every inch of hand-eye coordination that even the most devout gamer may have acquired over the years as well as a significant amount of brain power. I promise you can’t play this game just once. Ladies and gents I present thee "Nervous Brickdown" for the Nintendo DS.

Nervous Brickdown is an extremely fun and challenging arcade-style action game in which you continuously bounce a ball off a paddle in a pong style fashion to bust up bricks in a variety of wildly cool 2-D environments to ultimately score big points, advance levels, encounter and defeat new bosses, acquire bonus material and power-ups, as well as eventually unlock new worlds and greater obstacles. Plus, there’s a wealth of game play here as you’ll be forced to skill your way through a 130+ levels across 10 unique modes before you put this one down.

As you advance through the game you’ll discover new wacky environments to smash up like jungles, haunted houses and golf courses to name a few. Your conventional paddle will begin to take on several new shapes including a submarine, rocket ship and even a ghost as you go from breaking bricks to busting up and knocking around several other animate/inanimate objects and boss monsters.

The game board itself is laid out across both the upper and lower dual screens and once the ball gets bouncing around there’s a ton of action going on. The object of the game is to simply keep the ball going using your stylus to move the paddle around along the lower edge of the screen. While it sounds simple it’s much easier said than done.

At the beginning of each stage you are given a select number of hearts depending on the world you’re playing. Every time you fail to return the ball you’ll lose a heart. When all of the hearts are depleted the game is over and you’ll have to replay the stage again.

As the ball gets bounced around the dual screens the board begins to fall apart quickly and if it doesn’t get caught up somewhere the balls momentum becomes a little quicker paced with each return. On advanced boards you’ll be required to perform a number of hat tricks such as avoiding a barrage of enemy fire, bouncing drowning swimmers to the surface off the hull of a submarine, catching jars of paint to help fill up color tube cannons, and even blowing into your DS microphone to shoo ghosts off.

Whatever the situation, the trick is to find a way to simultaneously keep up all of these tasks and continue to keep the ball going as well. On top of that there are usually hard barriers scattered about the board which can quickly bounce the ball back your way unexpectedly if you’re not paying attention. Rest assured it won’t be long before you’ll begin to realize how the game came to get its name.

The great thing about Nervous Breakdown is how the simple "break-out" game play concept we’ve seen in years past is ingeniously refined and recreated as you move from world to world so that you never feel like you’re playing the same ole’ stage over and over again. Instead, you’ll find yourself just as eager to unlock the next world as you are to finish up the one your currently on. More over, a superb physics engine keeps the game extremely fun and challenging without it going overboard on the difficulty end and leaving things much too frustrating in the long run.

Major kudos go out regarding the multiplayer facet of the game as well for the simple fact that you only need one game card to enjoy Nervous Brickdown with a friend. You can easily go into multiplayer mode and search your buddy out wirelessly via a Wi-Fi connection. In this mode each player can only hit the ball when it changes into the player’s paddle color so everyone will have to keep their eyes peeled. The object of the game is to run up the highest score to unlock special power-ups and combos.

Good graphics and solid audio help round off a near perfect title. The artistic concept of the game is intriguing within itself. Each world is composed of several different shapes and shades of pastel colors and the boss encounters produce some very nice eye candy.

On top of that the audio is very surprisingly well put together and flows perfectly with the game play and helps to set the tone as players advance from world to world.

The bottom line is that Nervous Brickdown is a must have title for nearly any game fan and that in itself is something that can rarely be said about most games. The game play concept is familiar and yet uniquely refined so that the player is left with an all new play experience. Even more so, the game is put together in such a way that it’s both challenging to veteran game fans and also (sort of) user friendly to beginners.

Best of all, Nervous Brickdown is boat loads of fun for everyone regardless of your game preference. This game is clearly worth its weight in gold and if you see one in the store pick yourself up a copy. You won’t be disappointed. I’m stamping this one with a well-deserved 4 1/2 out of 5 possible GiN gems as it no doubt has some very serious break-out potential.

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