August 2021: Kirby’s Block Ball (1996)

It’s AUGUST! That means a new game for the Yokoi Kids and a birthday for me! The fellas over at Drink a Beer and Play a Game have chosen Kirby’s Block Ball and I couldn’t be happier to celebrate the month with the little pink friend. Block Ball is Breakout to the maximum. Just recently we covered Alleyway, a much more traditional take on the paddle genre, but this one throws away the rules! Players have to break all of the different blocks in the given level by bouncing Kirby off a platform and keeping him away from the spikes. There isn’t just one side of the screen to watch, though. Very quickly players will be contending with four walls of spikes, four paddles, blocks of different durability, and different power-ups for Kirby to help with the destruction. It’s a real hoot! Not only do I think the game is great, but I love the look. There’s definitely some artistry to the various level layouts. They just look fun!

Here’s what Jim from Drink a Beer and Play a Game has to say about it:

Ever since my parents took the Atari 2600 down from the attic, I have always been a sucker for Breakout style games. For whatever reason, Kirby was the king of spin-off games that crossed games genres in the early 90s. I really wish that trend kept up. Kirby’s Pinball Land is one of the best pinball games from the era, and this month’s selection (you’re all welcome) might be the best breakout clone not named Arkanoid. There’s so much to do Kirby’s Block Ball and, like usual with Kirby, there is charm for days. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Enjoy, all!–Ian

Kirby’s Block Ball isn’t the cheapest game but you can get it on the 3DS store for $3. Remember, Yokoi Kids isn’t about throwing your money at tiny video game cartridges. To paraphrase my friend Donna Ramone, “Friendship > Capitalist Collector Culture”. Play this game any way you want.

Alleyway: The Shape of Bricks To Come – D’arcy Briggs

Alleyway is an interesting launch title for the Game Boy. It’s basic, a simple Breakout clone, and only offers bonus levels and a few variations in levels to keep things interesting. It doesn’t hold onto your high score and honestly, it’s not pretty.

However, it perfectly fits its intended purpose: to act as a bridge between the even simpler Game and Watch games, and games that would offer more dynamic and nuanced play. As basic as it is, it’s from a time when handheld gaming was in its infancy and much cruder in design. Alleyway cracks the window open a little to show what the future held. The fact that there ARE bonus levels, the fact that there IS a variety in levels means a lot in terms of the evolution of handheld gaming.

D’Arcy is an educator and gamer from BC, Canada. He’s been gaming his entire life and enjoys both new and retro games. His consoles of choice are Game Boy, PS3, and Switch.You can follow his gaming online @darcyska_gaming

AlleyWay – Colorful Plastic

Blaire plays and chats about Alleyway.

From Blair:

My name is Blair and I’m the host (for lack of a better term) of Colorful Plastic, a YouTube channel dedicated to playing every Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance game ever released. That’s right, we’ll be playing every single one and I’ll provide commentary and knowledgealong the way. We’ll also dig into Game Boy accessories, oddities, mods and collections. So I hope you’ll join me on my completely pointless journey through everything the Game Boy has to offer. 
*knowledge not guaranteed.

May 2021 Alleyway (1989)

This month why are playing the often glossed over game Alleyway! It was picked by Chris Eugene, who had this to say about it:

Alleyway was my favorite game out of a batch of fifteen or so that Rick lent me last month. He nicely corrected me each time I called it Mario Ping Pong.
It is very straightforward. Hit all of the blocks that are able to be knocked out without letting the ball get past your lil’ bounce block or ping pong paddle or whatever you’d like to call it (please tell me).
The music isn’t my favorite, but the sound of the ball hitting off the blocks is very satisfying. There are twenty-four levels that follow the same basic pattern. First a basic layout, then the same layout with added difficulties until the next new layout. There are also a few bonus levels that are fun if you can get the ball to leave the same trajectory repeatedly. I actually only completed a bonus level once and it sure made me happy!
I sometimes searched the internet or phone game apps for this style of game and none of them were what I was looking for, but fate (Rick) has now handed this game to me! It is all I have been searching for. I made it to about level 19 with 17,000ish points when my Game Boy died. Fun to play alone or with a friend. I hope you all enjoy this game as much as I did. Happy May Day!

So yeah, give it a go! It’s only going to cost you about $6 or $3 on the 3DS store. Or just emulate it. Just play it and let us know what you think!