If you haven't heard of Breakout, Arkanoid or Brick Attack, then you've probably been living in a cave for past last thirty years. Being one of the great classics, many people have redeveloped Breakout with new tricks and features, but none as interesting as Arkedo's Nervous Brickdown for the Nintendo DS. Developer Arkedo has teamed up with Eidos Interactive to release this brand new twist on the theme.
I can see how there would be a challenge to create a new spin on a concept that is constantly being played with, but Arkedo has succeeded doing more than that: it has created a brand new gaming experience based on a proven general concept.
The single player mode of Nervous Breakdown has been broken down into a bunch of levels. Within these levels are 9 stages and a boss. Yes, that's right, bosses! Now what makes this game different isn't just playing with the same paddle and ball each time and only having different block arrangements and backgrounds, but each level has its own theme that challenges the player. For example, the water level gives you a paddle that is a submarine, on top of this, the level of the water rises continually while you try to save falling people and still avoid letting the ball get through. The shoot level gives you a ship that you have to hit the ball back, but you can also shoot objects and you must avoid enemy fire like if you were playing any of the R-Type games for NES or SNES.
After playing the single player mode for a while, you'll unlock shuffle mode. This mode mixes five stages from the all the levels and stages that you have unlocked and then lets you play them. This mode is good for the bus to work or school because it gives you a good twenty minutes of gaming, and it's not following the regular single player mode of progressing through the stages.
This game even has a multiplayer mode that uses the Download Play feature. So, if you want to play this game with your friend, you will only need one Nintendo DS cartridge to play with two DS systems. The gameplay is a lot like the Switch level, but each player has a different coloured paddle and you play on the same screen. If the colour of the ball matches your paddle, it's your turn to hit the ball.
Nervous Brickdown has some solid, smooth graphics. Although they are not revolutionary by any means, the simplicity is what makes it work. The music though is another story. Needless to say, I don't like the music; I prefer to play it with the volume off. It's kind of like a bad style of elevator music, with no real added value to the gameplay.
The dual screen feature is neat; unfortunately there is no delay to make up for the space between the screens. Now the gameplay is quite simple, you use the touch screen to move the paddle and to interact with objects depending on the level theme. The top screen just expands the space of the screen and gives the player time to mess with things on the touch screen. The gameplay is simple enough, especially since everyone has likely played a version of Breakout somewhere before.
The action becomes even more intense as you unlock more levels because you'll have things happening on both screens that you have to pay attention to. This adds a level of difficulty that makes the game more lasting than other games of its kind. You'll also find extra bonus challenges to complete in each level that unlock some crummy music. Although the rewards may be lackluster, the challenges are pretty hard, so it's fun to go through and try and get them done anyhow. Another interesting aspect of the game is that after you beat the Final Boss level, you'll unlock five more stages in each level which extend the gameplay significantly.
Nervous Brickdown is a very solid game, offering up enjoyable gameplay, with a very good multiplayer mode and the shuffle mode allowing you to play random levels is a neat twist. Although a few extra levels would have been appreciated, Nervous Brickdown is at least worth a look.