You ever like a game that you're no good at? You can see others master the mechanics on a whim, but you just keep pounding away at the first few levels hoping to achieve greatness. Maybe there's background music that catches your ear, maybe there's luck involved and you can't stop rolling the dice. Maybe the gameplay seems so simple that you can't believe it's actually as hard as it is. That's me with Breakout. Call it Arkanoid, call it Alleyway, it doesn't matter, I'm just no good and I can't stop playing. New action-arcade release Drawkanoid is for people like me, presenting a new spin on brick-breaking that captures all the fun without the frustration.
It all comes together with the concept. In most brick-breaking ordeals, you control a paddle in one, maybe two directions. You bounce a ball towards a configuration of bricks, with your main goal being an empty screen. Drawkanoid starts similarly, but your paddle is never on the screen for very long. That's because you "draw" it in at whatever angle and size you choose. The ball hits slow motion whenever it hits the bottom of the screen and reacts to whatever paddle you whip up for it. If you take too long thinking or draw in the wrong place, you watch your ball plummet into the abyss and lose a life.
It's not too complicated as far as arcade reimaginings, but these small tweaks work wonders. Each round starts off fast and gets faster, never falling below a fever pitch. Every bounce, shot, and hit shines with a neon tinge, making you feel like you're constantly racking up a high score in Fantavision. Once you clear away a set of marked bricks, a Space Invaders-esque boss descends. Despite their gigantic stature, they go down with a single hit, granting you bonus points, bonus time in the Countdown mode, and a satisfying crumbling into tiny pixels.
The entire game feels like it could have existed in a cabinet with some sort of custom stylus controller. There's even a backing musical track that I would call typical for a game going after the retro 80's feel. It's not bad at complimenting the action, but I've heard better. It's pretty hard to impress with synthy video game music in 2020, so I also don't hold it much against the developers. Besides, you're probably not going to be playing Drawkanoid for very long at any one time. Like its ancestors in the arcades, it's perfect for a few quick runs at a time before moving onto something else.
That's not to say that Drawkanoid hasn't learned anything from the 30 years of gaming history since Arkanoid. Like all the best modern arcade games of our era, Drawkanoid brings in a tiny pinch of progression. You earn a currency playing the game normally and that unlocks passive and active power-ups for your next round. Nothing is one-time use either, it's all building to improve your score and increase your survivability. This may be a bummer for purists and high score chasers, but it works wonderfully well on my roguelike-addled mind.
That's really all she wrote for Drawkanoid, but it's also all you really need. A simple brick breaker probably isn't going to appeal to a huge audience, even with fancy graphics and a novel mechanic. This is doubly true if a member of said audience can't take another dose of 80s-style visuals, but that is the definition of a sad person right there. If you are into the genre and want something that won't make you tear your hair out in frustration, Drawkanoid is here to fulfill your extremely specific needs. They certainly fulfill mine.
TechRaptor covered Drawkanoid on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.