Blast from the Past: Alleyway (Game Boy)

Retro Review


Being an 80s born individual I grew up on a ton of ‘brick’ titles. Which I’m sure many of the 90s kids are accustomed to. The 90 in 1’s or 40 in 1’s that possessed a large number of the same games but in different variants. And although they weren’t named Alleyway there were all based on the same principle of moving a paddle across the screen whilst a ball flies across the field trying to break blocks.

Released in the late 80s on the Game Boy, Alleyway was a clone of a title named Breakout. The title puts players in the shoes of a person who has to wield a bat which resembles a mobile platform that deflects a ball that moves across the screen to demolish a set of blocks. The task is simple – don’t let the ball fall and make sure you clear the screen. Of course, this may sometimes be easier said than done as the ball speeds up upon colliding with certain bricks. Another thing players have to worry about is upon colliding with the bricks the ball changes direction forcing the player to re-think their strategy in placing the paddle at the right place during the ball’s fall. The point that the ball connects with the paddle will determine the trajectory the ball will then take allowing players to control the ball a bit. Once all the blocks in the level have disappeared the player may then move on to the next level.

Although many levels may seem similar in terms of the block pattern, they do change in mechanics. For example, the group of blocks may start moving across the screen in a slow yet fluid movement parallel to the paddle, or lower itself closer to the player’s paddle. In addition to the bricks moving in later levels the player’s paddle is also prone to reducing in size if the ball hits the ceiling. What’s more is that there are bricks introduced at a later stage that cannot be broken although the player can utilise this to their advantage by bouncing the ball off of it to hit the remaining bricks.

All in all, Alleyway is so simple to pick up and play that it can be learned and played by anyone and everyone. The major gripe, however, is that due to this simplicity players may tend to become bored really fast. The only sounds in the game are the ball hitting the bricks and the paddle although the opening screen does have a snippet of music as well as the level completion. The rest of the game is u, unfortunately, lonely quiet one. I can see how a title like this would have kept me busy for hours on end back in the 8’s and 90s, however now I’m wondering as to why Nintendo has even loaded this onto their Virtual Console selection on the Nintendo eShop. Perhaps for those who need to kill a little time. Unfortunately Alleyway is the furthest thing from a Blast and should remain in the Past.


  • Good way to waste time in nostalgia


  • Repetitive


Back in simpler times, this was something to keep you busy for hours. Now it is a short, lonely experience.


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