While the Switch has been enjoying a heavy variety of games from across all sorts of genres, some are more well represented than others. RPGs have been in the spotlight aplenty with Square’s recent announcement of several Final Fantasy games coming aboard. On the other hand, board games and Breakout-ish titles are currently underrepresented. Doughlings: Arcade aims to not only strengthen the latter but also remind us that they can still be worthy time killers.

Story

The Doughlings are a peaceful race that have suddenly been overcome by an illness that turns them into reckless creatures. One of them notices this and because he’s a scientist, he creates a cure that must be bounced around like a ball to heal his fellow people. The premise is fine on its own but certain grammatically incorrect sentences and a sudden prequel hook kind of threw me off. It’s not a dealbreaker but it could have been better off without the tease and with a couple sentence edits.

Graphics

I don’t usually look into a game just because of its looks, but man does Doughlings: ArcadeĀ  embody a style that speaks to me! I’ve always loved the art and cartoon-y natures of ’90s point ‘n click titles and this game captures that feel nicely. The Doughlings are fun to look at thanks to the kinds of animations they feature when in action. I also adore the backgrounds used throughout the course of the game’s levels. It’s almost like the developers went back in time to pluck these from some well-regarded PC adventure games.

Audio

With the story being narrated by a seemingly well-spoken voice, it makes the writing all the more baffling when it’s heard out loud. Aside from that, I think the sound effects complement the cartoon-y aspects of the game in a great fashion. They make it really satisfying to hit the Doughlings with the ball. There’s a kind of pizzazz to the sounds that add a lot of flavor to the way the game feels. The music, while not having as much of an impact, does provide a neat laidback atmosphere to the locales the game takes place in.

Gameplay

Doughlings: Arcade is a game that plays similarly to Breakout and Arkanoid. You hit a ball against waves of multicolored Doughlings and if you’ve hit enough, the level ends and you move on to the next. It’s easy stuff to understand. What makes this game special is how it takes an existing formula and improves on it. No more do you have to be annoyed over failing to hit that one block nor does hitting the same one multiple times feel like a drag. The pace is consistent and kinetic. The ball bounces off in ways that can be manipulated depending on what part of you it landed on; there’s a means of control that is integral to the game’s fun factor.

Even the power-ups, despite some being used often in these types of games, feel good to use because of how they’re implemented. They have primary and secondary abilities that never feel pointless (except for one that pushes the wave back a little). If anything, it can still be hard to have the urge to play through the game for a long while because it’s still 75+ levels of Arkanoid-style gameplay. Maybe if the levels are gradually amped up even further, that could help make things more interesting. That said, secret levels, scoring high to mark your territory on online leaderboards for each stage and/or in total, and creating your own levels in the in-game level editor all add a ton of replay value!

Verdict

Doughlings: Arcade is a blast for anyone keen on playing more Breaknoid games. Offering plenty of bang for your buck and managing to make this type of game fun again, it gets two thumbs up from me. I’m impressed by the quantity and quality the game offered; it’s like pouring extra icing and sprinkles onto a cake that already was ready to be eaten. There are a few cons that the game could have better improved from, but in a way, that adds to the potential of a sequel (or prequel if the story’s that insistent on continuing this way).

Review copy provided by Hero Concept