A review by Jeremy Hardin
Gameplay and Controls
In Cocoto: Alien Brick Breaker, players will take control of the the devilish title character Cocoto in an effort to defend the planet and themselves against, and ultimately defeat the invading aliens, known as Xillians. Brick breaking games have a tried and true formula, and Cocoto wisely makes use of this, but aims to modernize the whole experience through various means. Rather than controlling a rectangular paddle from left to right at the bottom of the screen, players control Cocoto as he runs and jumps back and forth holding his shield against his head to deflect shots. One major difference from the original brick breaker games is that once you deflect a shot, it no longer poses a threat. Obviously, your goal in each level is to destroy the waves of enemies. After you defeat the waves, you will obtain a Xillian crystal. Collecting enough of these will create a force field to protect the planet.
There are a total of 60 levels spread out across 5 planets, so you can be sure you’ll be destroying countless waves of Xillians. As expected, a collection of power-ups will rain down at random from the vaporized remains of the puny aliens. These power-ups will be quite helpful in wiping out the waves of enemies. If however, you just can’t seem to deflect every shot hurtling towards the planet, a crack will appear on the ground upon a succesful strike from above. If the planet sustains multiple hits in the same spot, a portion of the ground caves in and you must jump the gap in order to cross safely. Overall, if the planet sustains multiple cave ins, it will be explode. While the game is not terribly difficult, I did find my planets blowing up on an occasion. In regards to level design, the levels are laid out across multiple screens making a circular pattern, so after a screen is cleared you can go left or right to proceed. The bottom screen of your 3DS will serve as a radar of sorts letting you know which screen you are on.
The Xillians come in a handful of variations, some more powerful than others. The levels do become a bit monotonous after you destroy several waves of enemies and have to do this 9 times in a row for each planet, so the differing enemies offers a welcome distraction. The boss battles are actually pretty cool and they serve a decent distraction from the waves upon waves of Xillians. The boss is always the same, but his methods of attack and defense change each time. The difficulty is not too bad, although I had to attempt multiple tries to beat the last boss.
On every planet there are two bonus rounds with gameplay that deviates from the standard form. In the bonus levels you will have waves of enemies advancing from the top down to you. There is a horizontal dotted line directly above your head and you must make sure to destroy the Xillians before they reach the line. In addition, you must also deflect the shots fired. Rather than relying solely on your shield, you are given an unlimited amount of projectiles which you can fire off in rapid succession with the press of the B button.
To make things more interesting, 3 trophy challenges await you in each level. Street Pass has been incorporated to compare said scores to passerby’s and award points to the one with the most points. It is very rare for me to get Street Pass communication, so I didn’t get the chance to check this function out in person. The trophy system is neat, albeit small in scope. Online leaderboards would have gone a long way towards extending the experience overall.
There are 3 modes of gameplay, the only one being unlocked at first is Story. The other two modes are Arcade and Classic. Arcade is an infinite run and Classic adheres to the original formula, meaning you lose the ability to jump and once a shot is deflected it still remains a threat.
Controlling Cocoto is simply a matter of using the Circle Pad to move left and right while pressing X or B to jump. Your shield defense is an automatic response when making contact with enemy fire, so you don’t have to worry about that. You only need to concern yourself with avoiding pitfalls in the ground as well as proper aiming to deflect and destroy the skyward enemies.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals are cute and simple, but overall the biggest hangup for me were the planets themselves. While they do boast themes with differing colors and backgrounds, I wish they weren’t so bland. The music and sounds are basic, simple and repetitive. I did enjoy the music from time to time, but there isn’t much there.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
Cocoto: Alien Brick Breaker pays a lot of homage to the classic brick breaker games, but also aims to set itself apart, which it does. Overall, the game can get a bit repetitive when playing a long session, but in short bursts it’s a welcome, and almost addicting challenge to power through the planet. The asking price of $5 is not too bad considering the 60 levels, plus the trophy challenges and various modes of gameplay. So, if you’re a fan of Arkanoid and would like a new, but not terribly different take on the formula – download a copy today!