“There are better budget titles available on the PS2”
Alleyway is possibly one of the most famous games from yesteryear. It had players controlling a paddle to hit a ball which would then destroy blocks. Destroying all the blocks would make the player victorious. Midas Interactive have released Bust-A-Bloc a game very much like Alleyway but with a few new additions and changes.
Bust-A-Bloc has thee game modes; attack, endless and versus. VS is the multiplayer section of the game. The main game mode is attack and even this is quite lacklustre and won't hold players interest for to long. In attack you play on different boards and have to defeat four levels to move to the next one. To defeat the level like in Alleyway, you have to remove all the blocks by destroying them with the ball. There are some differences though. For instance some blocks can be penetrated and the ball will continue you through them after they are destroyed instead of bouncing back at the paddle whilst others are made of steel and take three or four knocks to take down.
At first the game starts of quite basic with easy configurations to defeat and pretty much what you would have expected from Alleyway but further on the new types of blocks and powerups are available and this is where the game can become moderately interesting. The powerups include 1 Ups (an extra ball), bombs, which explode the surrounding area and the blocks in it, and a powerup which unleashes numerous balls to help you bust the blocks.
The paddle can also be customised somewhat. Before each game you will be asked if you want a fast moving paddle or slow moving paddle. Powerups can also alter the paddle making it twice the size, or placing blocks behind the paddle to stop balls getting away. One unique aspect of Bust-A-Bloc is the ability to tilt the board like in Pinball. Tilting the board allows you to place spin on the ball and somewhat control it towards the remaining blocks or a powerup. Unlike in pinball games however, tilting the board numerous times will not lock the game but it will cause the ball to move faster making it harder for you to return it back when it heads for the paddle.
The game is fairly basic at first but can become challenging. There is 18 levels each with four boards to beat. The first levels are fairly basic but some will offer a challenge. However because the game is incredibly repetitive and tedious, it is unlikely you will get far into the game before you move onto something else.
The boards are set across different themes such as Jungle, China, Kings Grave, Castle and others. The boards only differ by the objects surrounding them for instance in the Jungle level you will see trees and an ancient artifact. The game can also be played in a variety of views with behind the paddle at three different angles available and also a top down view which looks very much like the camera used in Alleyway. The graphics are adequate and the different themes add to the variety of the game. The soundtrack is a high tempo tune and in some levels no music is present.
Overall Bust-A-Bloc is a moderately average budget title which fans of the original Alleyway will enjoy. For anyone else it becomes quite repetitive very quickly and when you compare it to some other games available for the same price, it just doesn’t seem to be worth the cold hard cash. If you really want to try the game, rent it first before making a decision about a purchase.
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