Timeless mini-games. Today: Wilkanoid 1.52
There are a ton of Breakout clones out there. Some suck, some are just okay, and some are surprisingly good. And then there are games like Wilkanoid – exceptional.
I discovered Wilkanoid 1.52 (properly spelled “wiLkANoiD v1.52” and developed by Wilhelm von Post) back in 2001 on one of those magazine CDs from Computer Bild Spiele, Bravo Screenfun, or GameStar. And man, from the moment I started playing, I was hooked. I spent hours and hours on it, alone or with friends, after school and on weekends, trying to break as many blocks as possible and get the highest score. And let me tell you, getting the highest score was a big deal back then since we didn’t have internet access and thus the whole list was just made of me and my friends. But what set Wilkanoid apart from all the other mini-games flooding the market was its exceptional quality and its ability to keep me addicted.
Curves beat straight balls
The gameplay in Wilkanoid differs from other breakout games of that time. There are power-ups like probes that fly around the ball and destroy all the surrounding bricks, speed boosts and resizing for the paddle (size matters!), lasers and magnets, and hungry aliens that can be used to literally eat bricks. And the best part is you can use multiple power-ups at the same time, and even stack them together. A ball surrounded by a bunch of probes slices through bricks like a hot knife through butter, sending your score through the roof with various combo multipliers. And hitting the ball at the right angle turns it into a curveball, allowing for shots to specific, harder-to-reach areas or special combos. It may take some practice to master, but the reward is definitely worth it – and damn, I was good with balls! Until I missed a super-powered ball with the paddle and it’d die at the bottom of the screen; that’s when I swore! 🤬💣🔪💀💥
Pow! Smash! Zapp!
Wilkanoid has three different worlds, each with its own graphics and features. In the alien world, for example, nasty alien bugs crawl through the levels and infect the bricks, making them harder to break (thankfully, those bugs can be burst by the ball!). Triggers on the walls of the levels catch stray balls, give them powerful buffs, and send them back into the level at full speed. Powerful, yet hard to control. Switches in the levels are activated by passing by with the ball and unlocking special events, like summoning a UFO in one level to help boost your score or opening a door in another level that leads to a secret off-screen area with a ton of high-priced bricks. And of course, there are also barriers, bouncers, acceleration fields, and other breakout game-like features to discover.
All of this is accompanied by crisp sound effects, funny samples when catching power-ups (or during game over), and a sometimes jazzy, sometimes funky, sometimes spacey “millennial synthesizer” music that I still enjoy listening time to time. It’s like the Holiday Island OST, but with less of a Caribbean vibe:
Works on my machine
Wilkanoid 1.52 is a little gem of a game that still brings back good memories, even in 2023. You can download it for free from the Internet Archive and it runs perfectly on Windows 11. The only issue I had was with full-screen mode on multiple monitors, but that might vary depending on your system. And if you think Wilkanoid 1.52 might be a little too old for you, there’s also Wilkanoid 2, which was released by the same developer in 2012 and has a ton of user-created levels, as well as graphical and gameplay improvements.
So, I’m off to break some more bricks and defend my place in the local high score. Shout-out to Wilhelm von Post for unexpectedly making my childhood and my present more awesome with this game 🥰
Hero image: Screenshot from Wilkanoid 1.52.
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