Isn't it funny how 'oid' often appears in the title of bat and ball games? Of course, we can thank the classic Arkanoid for this, a game that Mad Mouse Games is trying to improve upon with Alienoid. But does Alienoid succeed?
Those not familiar with Arkanoid shouldn't have any trouble picking up the rules for Alienoid. You get a bat, which you can move from left to right at the bottom of the screen, a ball, which you bounce around the screen using your bat, and bricks, which must be destroyed by the ball.
Alienoid has all the usual extensions to the formula. 21 powerups exist such as multiball, sticky bat and lasers, which are dropped when random blocks are destroyed. Certain pickups are actually powerdowns, affecting everything from bat size to ball physics. Further to this, you'll find 50 different brick types to destroy.
To complement the variety of pickups and brick types, other obstacles such as the titular aliens and black holes will hinder your progress through 20 worlds and 100 levels. You also get the option to control not one, but up to four bats at the same time, adding an extra level of player involvement.
With this much on offer, it can't go wrong can it? Well, it can actually, as Alienoid is a very underwhelming game. The presentation and graphical aspects of Alienoid seriously let down a game that would otherwise have been perfectly enjoyable. Its rare for me to have the view that graphics could ruin gameplay, but in a game style such as this, suitable graphics are a must.
If you are trying to track a small ball around a screen, the last thing you need is to have asteroids flying around in the background. If you can collect 21 different pickups, you would hope that the pickups are easily recognisable. With 50 different brick types, it would be nice to know and see the differences.
Sound effects and music help lift things slightly, but the graphical quality will likely have you turning the game off long before the sound annoys you.
With the wealth of game objects, levels, and the extra bat mode, Alienoid should have been a great addition to the genre. It offers all the usual gameplay mechanics and introduces you to new ones such as the black hole, but the incentive to play is lost thanks to the poor presentation.
This review is based on a demo version of Alienoid. At time of writing I was unable to make contact with the author to get a full version to test.
Keywords: alienoid review, mad mouse games reviews, mad mouse games games, alienoid scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.