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holedown review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: webbfarbror
Developer: webbfarbror
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards
ESRB: E

Here’s how I know that I’m addicted to holedown: I can’t stop thinking about it. I mean, I can’t stop playing it either, to the point that I found it difficult to even drag myself away and write this review. But the real sign of addiction, at least for me, is that I find holedown occupying my thoughts every waking moment when I’m not playing it.

Of course, this is the whole point of holedown. It got its start as a mobile game last year, and it’s exactly the sort of addictive timewaster for which it feels like the mobile genre was invented. It’s incredibly simple, with gameplay that recalls Brick Breaker (or, if you want to go even more old school, Breakout): you fire balls at blocks with numbers on them, and every time a ball hits a block that number decreases. Get it down to zero, and the block breaks. Fail to break a block before the block reaches the top of the screen, and it’s game over.

While there’s some strategy to it all — you have to figure out the angles just so if you want to take full advantage of rebounds and caroms — it’s the kind of thing that anyone can play. And yet, it’s designed to be just challenging enough that you’ll keep going back again and again just to get a little bit deeper each time (there’s a vague space theme here, since you’re ostensibly mining down into a planet’s core).

What’s more, holedown has one of the most instantly gratifying moments I’ve ever experienced in a game: the amazing chaos that ensues when you get an angle just right, and you suddenly have 20, 30, 40+ balls flying around the screen at a rapid pace, taking out blocks left and right as a full screen suddenly empties out.

Here’s how much I love holedown: even though it’s arrived on the Switch at a substantial markup ($10, compared to around $4-5 on iOS and Android), it still feels worth it. I’ve spent the last few days doing nothing but playing this game, and seeing it flash across my mind when I’m not. If that’s not the definition of a great game, I don’t know what is.

webbfarbror provided us with a holedown Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A