In a dimension far away there lives a peaceful race of floating heads called Doughlings. Their favourite hobby is to watch other cultures and impersonate them. However, one day a huge meteorite crashes into their planet. The blast spreads thick green gas across their world. Every one of the Doughlings become sick from this poisionous gas and fall ill.
Doctor Morpheus studies the illness and finds out that the infected became wild and uncontrollable. After that, they turn into stone. So the good doctor tries to create vaccine to help his race survive this awful ordeal. But before he can help, his infections attack him and leaving him no other choice but to fight back and save them by any means necessary!
The gameplay in Doughlings: Arcade is very similar to a popular game called Arkanoid which was released back in the day of 1986 by Taito. Main concept was to hit a ball with a paddle against different types of coloured bricks with different layouts, score big points in process.
Atari then expanded the genres variety and even added power-ups in their version which changed how the game was played. They released their version called Breakout in 1976.
Anyone and everyone has probably played some sort of version of this popular title once in their lifetime. It has probably been on every system in some shape or form but most don’t changed over all significantly, that’s when things can become dull…
Thankfully Doughlings: Arcade doesn’t follow the rest of the pack and sets out to do something different with some unique power provided to their heroes!
Arcade feel with a twist!
Doughlings: Arcade follows the same rules as Arkanoid but with an upgrade to its visuals, gameplay mechanics and, instead of bricks, it is all about healing your race from a poisonous illness. Clearing each blob on the screen until you clear or, in this case, heal the whole group. Time limit above the pack will count down and once it reaches 0 more infected Doughlings will drop from above. Your only goal is to survive onslaught and keep healing your kin with your vaccine ball, preventing any balls from falling into the pit below. Failing that will result in life being deplete and that will result in a game over. Each of the Doughlings has a different infection rate. For example: a blue blob needs 1 hit to cure while any yellow blob needs up to 4 hits of the vaccine ball to be cured. With each successful hit the Doughlings change colour and eventually will be healed 100%. When healthy again they literally fly away and you will receive points that add to your total score. The total amount of points can be found on the left hand side.
The extra gameplay mechanics make this Breakout/Arkanoid experience a fresh one, far more enjoyable than your typical clone of either one of the titles.
Controls are pretty simple to use. Left analog stick lets you move from left to right. You move the target cursor left to right with a press of the B button and shooting the ball with Y button. You also use your spot light powers with the X button.
Every time you successfully heal Doughlings, they drop little “thumbs ups” which you can collect by simple moving into them when they are falling. Each one of these lights up one of your spotlights in the bottom hand corner of the screen. Once all spotlights are lit up, you can use one of your unique abilities. The Doctor’s main power is called the colour ball. Which once fired can heal multiple Doughlings. This really is the most useful power up in game as you can clear huge sections with it. But be careful, like most powers ups you only use it for a limited time.
You can also collect stars during a level. This helps with your overall score. But they can be tricky to collect as sometimes they fall with clumps and are difficult to pick up. But if you want to get that high score you need to make it happen. Other items can be collected, too, like hearts. They grant you extra lives.
However, there are risks of healing too many Doughlings at the same time!
All Doughlings are connected to the stem to the top of the screen. Once the connection is disconnected a group of Doughlings can fall from the top down to the bottom. This can be hazardous as falling characters can slow you down. This may cause you to lose a ball and they can have a negative effect on your score, too.
If the connection between the infected Doughlings are either cured or disconnected, expect to see large clumps falling down from the celling. So it is important to keep an eye out were you are hitting the ball at and where it heads to since it may can cause you to lose alife.
Once you reached the last few remaining Doughlings, an alarm will sound. It indicates that the level is about come to an end and from this point, all you need to do is survive.
As you move through each level, new Doughlings and items will be added. This will change how you approach each stage.
Aim for a prize
Each cleared level will reward you with stars and jars filled with red liquid. More stars you receive, the better rewards you’ll get. This liquid reward can be used to upgrade your character abilities. It is either increasing the time for special powers or heroes in the DNA menu.
“I have the power”
Hero powers unlock as you progress through the levels. They are so cool and one of my favourite things in the game! You will encounter DNA strains amongst the patterns of the Doughlings. If you manage to hit one of these, they will fall down and it’s your mission to collect them. Doing so will transform you into a super hero character which changes up gameplay greatly.
Some of these transformations may look quite familiar. For example they resemble the Hulk, the Thing and even Spiderman to name a few. Each having their own unique standard and you can also upgrade the spotlight abilities along with the main characters. There are 6 heroes to unlock in total and each are useful in different situations.
You wouldn’t like me when I am angry!
Some of the heroes you play are rather large characters (Hulk for example). When you play with him, you don’t need to worry about of dropping the ball since his large size makes catching the ball easier. He also has a thunderclap-spotlight ability which can heal some critters above him. Others like the Gunner can shoot bullets as their standard move. He can also slow down time which can be very useful in hectic situations.
However, with all good things there’s always a catch. Here it comes in the form that you can only play with all hero like characters for a limited time. How long time you have left to use them is shown by the hero bar on the right hand side. Thankfully, you can upgrade your heroes so that you can use them for longer!
Let’s get creative!
But wait, there’s even more! Every level is connected to an online leaderboard. There you can see who is the best at a current level. The top 3 are displayed but you also can look at official leaderboards at the trophy screen during gameplay.
There is also a great level editor which lets you create even more levels for you to play! You can change things like which Doughlings and what power ups you want to use, the time or how many lines on grid you want. You can even change backgrounds! However, some options will only unlock at certain levels in the campaign. It is so easy to create something, test it out and be creative! Simply push the publish button and your level will go into a review state. After that it will appear on the community page were others can play it and even rate your creations.
One of my favourite features in any game is the community-driven content and the fact that you can build own levels that others can enjoy. That is a great inclusion as there will be an infinite amount of levels to play.
Cheerful tunes are played in the menu and during gameplay. Everything sounds good and the sound effects are also good, too. The intro is narrated and sounds decent. So nothing wrong with the audio!
Visuals & Performance
Visuals are rather nice in Doughling:Arcade. Everything is well animated. I really like the quirky designs for the hero characters! They’ve definitely taken some inspiration from the Marvel universe in their designs. I have noticed little things, and details like expressions of the main character as well as the hero characters which I also like a lot! Backgrounds are static though.
However, overall the personality of the game shines through. It is definitely the nicest looking Arkanoid like game I have ever seen.
Performance is good, too, and everything runs well. I haven’t experienced any issues to speak of during my playthrough. The title also supports video captures and screenshots.
Priced at a reasonable $6.99 USD/£6.99 GPB, the offer will definitely scratch that itch for people looking for a score based breakout game on the Nintendo Switch. It’s got that tried and tested forum that works great here. The added extras and hero powers really spice up the old concept and brings it into the 21th century. With an added level editor that will be packed with custom made levels, meaning that the community will only grow larger after the game is released, it is offering you even more levels to play with and rate.
The 75+ stages will definitely take you awhile to get through unless you are a breakout master. After that try to conquer the online leaderboards or create levels in the editor.
The only thing absent is that there’s no local play option. So this means this is a single player experience only but thankfully a pretty good one!
Unique hero characters and powers
Sometimes the ball has a mind of its own