Alleyway

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The UK box.

Alleyway is a ball and paddle video game developed by Intelligent Systems and Nintendo and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy on 1989-04-21. The game is clearly influenced by Breakout with a paddle graphic stolen from Arkanoid. Like most Breakout clones, your goal to to clear out the bricks at the top of the screen by hitting them with a ball bounced off your paddle. Once all the bricks are broken, you move onto the next level which has a different layout of bricks. The game was one of the few launch titles released with the Game Boy.

Personal

I had little access to the Game Boy when I was younger, and, of the few times I played it, I never saw Alleyway. It wasn't until I was watching Jeremy Parish's Game Boy Works that I heard about the game. Although his review was far from praising, the fact that it was a launch title I had never even heard of, let alone played, caused me to seek it out. When I did play it, it was as underwhelming as I expected. I beat the game by reaching stage 24 on 2021-11-28.

Status

I don't own the game, but I have beaten it.

Review

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3 5 3 3 2

Best Version: Game Boy

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • I appreciate that the ball never moves so fast as to prevent players with normal reflexes from beating the game.
  • The moving bricks and descending brick stages add much-needed complexity to the game.
  • The ability to use the buttons to move slower and faster offers a bit of precision control over motion.
  • The bonus stages are a nice break in the repetition, and they add much needed character to the game with their recognizable graphics and music.

Bad

  • Although having the paddle shrink when you hit the upper wall does introduce a little strategy into the game (you try to put off on hitting it for as long as possible), it's ultimately a punishment for using the preferred technique of carving a whole in the bricks to reach the top. Basically, it encourages slower, more boring play. Same for the ball speed increasing when you hit the gray and black bricks.
  • The game suffers the same problem as most Breakout clones; as there are fewer bricks to hit, you spend a lot of time bouncing the ball back and forth against the wall hitting nothing, which is really boring. This is fixed in the stages where the bricks move, and, honestly, that should happen in every stage.
  • Since every level has a fixed layout, once you beat the game, there is nothing new to see. You can either try for a more perfect score on the first 24 stages, or keep looping the game until you max out the score, though neither venture is very fun.
  • This is a quibble, but scoring system is too small. There's nothing very satisfying about getting a single point for breaking a brick.

Ugly

  • The game is slow and monotonous to the point of boredom. I find that I often die, not because my reflexes aren't good enough, but because my mind wanders to something actually interesting. Some of the more interesting elements found in Arkanoid or other ball and paddle games could have been implemented, and they are sorely missed.
  • Having to play each layout three times in a row only adds to the monotony.
  • The audio gets on your nerves after only awhile. Some background music, or even a little variation in the rebound sound effects would have helped. As it is, only the bonus stage gives background music.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Videos

Longplay.

Credits

The game doesn't have credits, but some of the staff has been determined.

Roles Staff
Producer and Designer Gunpei Yokoi
Music, Sound Effects Kenji Yamamoto

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Alleyway
Japanese アレイウェイ Areiu~ei Alleyway

Link

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