Dungeonoid 2 Awakening (XSX) Review

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening is a merging of genres. It takes classic Arkanoid gameplay but mixes it with a scrolling platformer. Without question, this is a fun and creative take on the classic single-player Pong formula but is held back by unfair and frustrating difficulty at times.

Breakout and Arkanoid, for comparison, take place on a single screen and once all the bricks are broken, it is onto the next. Instead of a single screen, the stages in Dungeonoid 2 scroll like any 2D platformer. Along the way, new sets of bricks, enemies, power-ups, and bosses appear. Adding another layer are RPG-like heroes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to bricks, the bouncing ball can also destroy and interact with parts of the environment. There are even secrets and bonuses to be found, like clearing a path with enough time to grab a key which can unlock a chest later in the stage.  Incorporating these platforming and RPG mechanics into a Breakout-clone works so well, it is a wonder why other games have not stolen this formula.

Even though the concept is rather entertaining, there are a few head scratching elements that ultimately hold back the experience with frustration. The first is the timer. For some reason, each stage is limited to a countdown timer. If expired, the player must restart from the beginning. The problem is, the player doesn’t have direct control of the ball. Sure, you can sort of aim it in a certain direction, but most of the time you are just hoping for the best since aiming with a scrolling screen can never be accurate. Therefore, forcing the player to work against a timer when most of the gameplay is out of control is a frustrating sin. Compounding this timer issue are the bosses. While I appreciate their creativity, bosses can be the biggest disappointment as they often require pixel perfect ball bounces against small targets. Again, since the player cannot perfectly aim each shot, with bosses that move, these fights are random at best. Patience will be tested when you get smoked by a boss that is out of your control and forced to replay a fifteen-minute stage. Oh yeah, and you cannot move onto the next stage until you clear the most recent one.

Each playable character has a unique superpower that can be unleashed once enough power has been stored. If it wasn’t for this special ability, there would have been no way I could have beaten some of the bosses. So if you don’t save your power blast for the boss, and don’t have the right attack for that specific boss, there is a good chance a restart will be in the near future. Having luck isn’t going to hurt either.

I like Dungeonoid 2 and think it is a fun game… when it isn’t being temperamental.  It angers me that the flaws were not determined before this final release because they really make the gameplay unnecessarily frustrating at times.  While this digital download is enjoyable, I am looking forward to a Dungeonoid 3 where the player’s time and patience is better respected.

SCORE: 7.5/10

Also Play: Dungeonoid the original

Don’t Forget About: Ping Redux

Wait For It: Shatter 2

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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