64Noid

64Noid is a Nintendo 64 homebrew game by Game Master Plc and released on 09 December 2020. The game is an arkanoid-style game where you control a paddle which destroys a wall of bricks. This game was made for the 64brew game jam 2020, but did not win an award.

You can download the ROM and source code from the download page for this homebrew game by using the password gamemasterplc or see the source code on Github and download from Drive.

64Noid style and gameplay

Style

The style of 64Noid is fairly bare-bones. The graphics are in an 8-bit style and have bold bright colours throughout. It’s simple and gets the point across. It’s easy to identify angles and distances, and there is nothing in the way and distract you from hitting your target.

This is a silent game, there is no music and no sound effects, so you can just play your own music in the background if you like.

Gameplay

64Noid is a port of Arkanoid, which is an expansion of Breakout, which is the sequel or spiritual successor to Pong. You could say that this game comes from a long lineage of classics.

You play as a ship (paddle) who bounces a ball upwards against a wall of bricks. Destroy all the bricks and you’ll advance to the next level. Simple as.

As you play each level, breaking a brick may drop you an item, most of which existed in the original Arkanoid:

  • EL – Extend Life (one up)
  • EP – Expand Paddle
  • SP – Small Paddle
  • EB – Expand Ball
  • L – Laser
  • C- Catch
  • NL – Next Level
  • T – Triple Balls

The levels in the main mode of 64Noid also parallel those in the original game.

Edit mode

64Noid includes a handy dandy editing mode where you can make your own levels and then play them. It’s fairly simple to use, just select your tile type/colour and place it on a 10×15 (ish) grid. Here I tried to create a blooper stage.

‘Size’ Theme

The size theme from the 2020 N64Brew game jam comes in the shape of the varying sizes of the paddles and balls when you get an item that drops down. This makes it a bit easier (or harder) toland a proper hit and bounce the ball back.

Credits

64Noid was made by Game Master Plc. This seems to be the first game we’re looking at that was made by a one-man band.

Review and conclusion

I really enjoyed playing through 64Noid. It’s one of those games that’s relaxing, you can sort of turn your brain off and go on autopilot. The ball stays at a constant speed throughout so it’s hard to miss a shot unless you’re spaced out or the bricks are really low on the stage.

The game runs very smoothly. The only glitch I found is that the game crashed after getting a game over and choosing edit mode, and getting a softllock. There is also some strange collision detection where too many blocks are destroyed or the ball doesn’t change an angle while vertical.

I like how the game manages to recreate most of the aspects from the original game, but on the other hand it does little to expand upon them.

For example, a simple way to make the game play more into the ‘size’ theme would be to make the large ball not only bigger, but more powerful. It could tear through blocks without bouncing back and last for 10 seconds before becoming small again. This would give more incentive to get the ball as big as possible for as long as possible. The game could also have blocks of different sizes, which could affect the ball in different ways.

Some sound would have improved the experience of playing 64Noid greatly. When I was young, I used to play Arkanoid on the Game Boy a lot. It had no music outside of the intro, but the pattern of beeps and boops was really unique in letting you know what kind of blocks you were hitting.

Another slight improvement to the game would be to change the way the ball reacts to being bounced off the paddle. The idea of a Pong-style game is that the middle of the paddle ‘reflects’ the ball at the same angle, while the tips increase the ball’s angle towards the side of impact. 64Noid’s collisions do not take into account the ball’s initial momentum, which leads to very strange bounces.

The last thing I think would have made it a much greater game would be to have a bit more of a personality to it. Games like Omsk Pong, Twintris or Dexanoid take what is a very basic game and give it a little bit of a twist to make it stand out a little. A bit of pixel art could go a long way.

That said, my suggestions are really just nitpicks. The game was made by one person with a short deadline so it’s never going to be 100%, and the game still is very technically proficient and does what it is supposed to do,e even without all the bells and whistles. Good job!

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64Noid is a Nintendo 64 homebrew game by Game Master Plc that replicates the style and gameplay of the classic Arkanoid game.
Article published on N64 Squid

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