Antonball Deluxe Review (Switch)

Antonball Deluxe Review: Brick Breaking Madness For Retro Gamers

 

Antonball Deluxe Review

 

Following a successful run on steam, Antonball Deluxe has arrived on Nintendo Switch and is right at home with other indie titles in Nintendo’s eShop. Antonball Deluxe is deliciously simple with its retro aesthetic and gameplay design, although it may alienate some players with its difficulty spikes.

Fans of retro gaming will be deeply familiar with Antonball’s mechanics, the game is a hybrid between the block-breaking in Arkanoid and old-school platformers like the original Mario Bros games. Rather than use a bat to bounce the ball you control a very angry-looking little man across 6 stages and 69 levels of varying difficulty.

Antonball’s biggest strength, without doubt, is its presentation. The 8-bit aesthetic is positively charming and the sound design and music should invoke a healthy dose of nostalgia. The visuals are clearly inspired by Nintendo games of old, coupled with excellent sound design and compressed character voices sounding like they’re ripped straight from arcade games from the 80s. Blocks make a satisfying ping when they’re destroyed, especially when the ball rebounds off them in quick succession to rack up a combo score. Moments like this deluded me into thinking I was good at the game, but I was wrong. If Antonball wasn’t available on Nintendo Switch or Steam it would almost certainly be found in an arcade, and it would take all my money.

 

Antonball gameplay

 

Older players may rise to the challenge but it didn’t take long for the difficulty in Antonball to become frustrating. Platforming in the later stages becomes increasingly complex which isn’t helped by the awkward control scheme. AntonBall requires lightning-fast reflexes to match its fast-paced brick breaking, and that’s not to mention the added challenge of enemies that will appear in later stages of the campaign.

Thankfully there are a few power-ups to help you on your way. There are the usual power-ups that you would come across in Arkanoid like slowing down time and multiple balls. There’s also a pistol that you can pick up that can allow you to blast away at the bricks, it’s absurd and it’s fun but the novelty quickly wears off. Antonball’s multiplayer option salvages the game’s main mode. It certainly becomes far more enjoyable and accessible as a 2 – 4 player game and makes the frantic pace more manageable.

 

Punchball

 

There are a total of 21 characters to play as and most can be unlocked in-game with the lottery machine found in the extras menu however it’s a surface level addition. All of the unlockable characters play the same as the initial 4 available to you at the start of the game, I can’t help but feel that a lack of unique abilities and power-ups for each character is a real missed opportunity to shake up the gameplay.

Antonball Deluxe also offers another game mode, Punchball which tells a side story of sorts. Players are placed into a Punchball tourney directly influenced by the gameplay of Mario Bros. In order to win a round enemies must be knocked off their feet with the Punchballs and kicked off the stage, it’s a far more traditional affair and a nice callback to the Italian plumber’s earliest outings. Punchball is a far less challenging affair and scales back the intensity but it’s a double-edged sword, it lacks the more addictive elements of Antonball’s gameplay making it all seem, well, a bit bland.

 

Antonball Multiplayer

 

A competitive versus mode is also available and once again highlights Antonball’s strengths as a multiplayer game. Players are placed into two teams and must defend their brick wall while trying to destroy the opposing team’s wall. Antonball’s versus mode can host up to 4 players and turns up the intensity of the original game mode, the competitive nature along with the frantic action make it easily the most appealing of the three-game modes. There’s also the option to take part in 2 v 1 matches to give yourself a challenge, or an advantage.

Despite my frustration with Antonball’s difficulty, I found myself getting hooked on its addictive gameplay and kept going back for more. Part of Antonball’s appeal is that you can take it on the go with you on the Switch. There are some games that really thrive on a handheld system, and Antonball is one of them. Considering the many homages to Mario Bros and other titles like Warioware it’s appropriate that Antonball has a presence on the Switch.

 

 

Antonball Deluxe is a wonderfully retro and niche title that will appeal to old school gamers. There are elements that leave a lot to be desired: difficulty options, and more incentive to unlock characters wouldn’t go amiss. That said there are three diverse game modes on offer and at the very least Antonball’s simplicity allows it to be enjoyed as some light entertainment if you’re traveling or have an hour to kill.


Final Verdict 3/5

                                                                                     

Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC; Publisher: Proponent Games; Developer: Summitsphere; Players: 1-4; Released: September 28th, 2021

Full disclosure: This review is based on a Nintendo Switch review copy of Antonball Deluxe given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.

 

 

 

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Bobby is an all-around nerd and huge PlayStation fan. He's currently stumbling his way through life, which now involves writing about games on the internet. Not that he would change anything.

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