20th Sep2018

‘Doughlings: Arcade’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

doughlings-screen

Doughlings: Arcade is a throwback to the days of Arkanoid and Breakout but with a modern sensibility when it comes to aesthetics and power-ups. What could have been an average, passable game actually turns out to be a fun, addictive and light-hearted arcade romp with pick up and play gameplay.

The story behind Doughlings (who, by the way are small creatures that float just off the ground with big eyes and arms but little else) is that you are Dr Morpheus, a Doughling who is searching for a cure for all of the other denizens of the Doughling world who have been turned into mindless monsters. Naturally his cure involves chucking a ball at them to sort them out. Good.

The visuals, music and sound effects that make up Doughlings reminded me of Peggle, a game I was quite addicted to for a short while a couple of years ago. I mean it as a compliment as the colourful graphics and gentle, toe-tapping music are almost slightly hypnotic as they colour the landscape of the game play. As Doughlings is such a simple game at heart, the ambience of the levels is important and the casual approach and tone really worked for me.

The game play is much like other ‘bat n ball’ game, you play as Morpheus who acts as the ‘bat’ and you must bounce the ball up against all of the doughlings that make up the screen. As you hit them, they will change colour until they reach their natural pink hue, upon which they are saved and fly off the screen. Occasionally, some doughlings will fall and need to be avoided as they can take away your points if they hit you and all-importantly, if the ball passes by Morpheus at the bottom of the screen, a life is lost.

The power-ups in Doughlings can make a heck of a difference, as an old-school high score beater, the idea is to get some serious pinball-bouncing combo action going on. As you earn points you slowly fill up a series of spotlights that eventually culminate in the narrator calling you a ‘show off!’ and a flashing billboard lights up. Upon this happening, you press the ‘X’ button and the ball, for a short time, turns all linked Doughlings into the same colour and if you are quick, this can result in some serious point-gathering action.

There are other power-ups in play such as a DNA strand that temporarily transforms Morpheus into various characters with powers that aid the racking up of those all-important points, extra lives and stars etc. And if you get the show-off colour-ball combined with the DNA strand? Boom! A special move comes into play. These small additions combined with the ability to slowly unlock extra features and extend the time limits of your bonuses add a layer of depth to the game to keep progress interesting. Sure, the core game play never changes throughout the games seventy-five levels but this is a game to be dipped into and enjoyed causally and is fun for everyone in the family that fancies some arcade action.

The lack of any sort of multiplayer mode is a shame but to make up for it there is a level editor which seems to have a healthy following, essentially meaning that there are infinite levels to play, so if you are a fan of Breakout style games, Doughlings: Arcade is a sensible purchase, even if some of the noises they make remind you of Charlie the Unicorn shorts.

Doughlings: Arcade is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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