Alleyway 3DS review

  • Simple arcade gameplay
  • Being able to create saves anywhere
  • Easy to pick-up and play
  • Paddle shrinkage
  • Limited bounce angles
  • Getting bored quickly

Price: $2.99
Size: 32 Blocks
First Released: 1989

Whacking a ball around with a paddle in hopes of breaking stuff is an age-old pursuit, and dusting off this Game Boy launch title reminds us of how much fun a decent block breaking game can be – even if it doesn’t quite rise to the occasion itself. Nintendo’s not-so-subtle Breakout clone exchanges the paddle for a spaceship ostensibly containing a pint-sized Mario, but the gist is exactly the same: you smash blocks by ping-ponging a ball upward. Repeat until you run out of lives or patience.

To its credit, Alleyway’s simplistic, no-frills block-breaking action is solid enough. Playing with the circle pad feels smooth, and being able to fine-tune the speed of your paddle movement by holding A or B almost makes up for the fact that the game hates you and wants you to fail. Every single time you get into the groove of a steady run, the game shrinks your paddle size, making it much harder to keep the ball in play. The original game was pretty tough, though the 3DS virtual consoles’ ability to create a save restore point anywhere in the game takes some of the sting out of losing.

Each playing field block design has several different stage variations before switching things up again. There’s the normal version where everything is static, a second version where the blocks scroll to the left and wrap across the screen, and a third variation where the blocks gradually descend toward your paddle. Every fourth level also throws in a Nintendo-themed bonus stage, featuring blocks formations of Mario, Koopas, squid, and other familiar characters. The variation is interesting, but it isn’t dazzling compared to the large number of cheaper, more robust block-breaking clones available for iOS and XBLA/PSN. Alleyway wasn’t so hot when it first came out, and it still pales when put it side-by-side to other similarly priced offerings. That said, you could do worse in a Breakout clone.

Jul 14, 2011

More Info

Available Platforms: Game Boy, 3DS
Genre: Puzzle


  • PizzatheHutt - July 15, 2011 9:48 a.m.

    HaHa! You said paddle shrinkage!
  • Redeater - July 15, 2011 3:28 a.m.

    @UsernameLoser Pointing out negativity on the internet is kind of like pointing out lack of artistic merit in a Micheal Bay movie.
  • Daruniah - July 15, 2011 12:42 a.m.

    I'm here to let gamesradar know that I appreciate these Game Boy re-release reviews. Especially Brett and Hank's reviews.
  • vadorsoul - July 14, 2011 11 p.m.

    Gasp, is the games radar staff contributing spam?
  • ViolentLee - July 14, 2011 8:04 p.m.

    I'm assuming you can't control the paddle with your stylus like you can with all the iOS Breakout clones you mention.
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - July 14, 2011 7:33 p.m.

    If you want something a little more robust than Alleyway, there's also a DSiWare breakout clone called AlphaBounce ($4) that's worth checking out. It's got tons of power-ups and randomly generated levels, plus it has RPG elements like equippable ship upgrades and the like. I've been playing it a lot lately.
  • UsernameLoser - July 14, 2011 7:14 p.m.

    I always never play games without progression like this, so I don't play Pac-man and Galaga, or any other game in that sense, screw you, Tetris! @Redeater I'm glad you aren't being negative about something for once.
  • Redeater - July 14, 2011 6:56 p.m.

    Awesome! I remember playing this as a kid. But try as I might I could never get very high even though I really wanted to see who would show up on the next bonus round.

Showing 1-8 of 8 comments

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