Nazo no Kabe: Block Kuzushi

Nazo no Kabe: Block Kuzushi is pretty shameless breakout clone, but that doesn’t stop the game from being amongst the best puzzle games released for the Disk System. The only downside about the game is that North America was denied a cartridge port for the NES.

Nazo no Kabe: Block Kuzushi

Japanese Title: 謎の壁 ブロックくずし
Title Translation: The Mysterious Wall: Block Break
English Release: Crackout (1991, EU/AU only)

Release Date: December 13, 1986
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Genre: Puzzle
Product Code: KDS-NZN
Disk Format: Double-sided
Notable Credits: Designed by Yoshiharu Kambe. Music composed by Hidenori Maezawa, Jun Funahashi, and Hiroshi Takeyasu.

Essentially a Breakout clone, Nazo no Kabe largely succeeds because of not only how well it emulated its source material, but also how it strove to improve it.

Konami decidedly went with the “build a better mousetrap” approach to game development with Nazo no Kabe, but while sampling from Atari’s Breakout arcade game and downright stealing from Taito’s Arkanoid, they also managed to add serveral features that fit in so seemlessly that you are left wondering why Atari and Taito didn’t think of them first.

The inclusion of multiple enemies on screen and some truly fun and inventive power-ups such as slow motion balls and exploding balls make Nazo no Kabe a delightful experience. Taking a page directly from Arkanoid, the graphics are colourful and imaginative, and the action is quick, yet the slowly escalating difficulty never feels unfair or overwhelming.

The typical puzzle game grind is helped substantionally by the fact that Nazo no Kabe is not an endless score-chase to a glitched kill-screen; instead it’s a structured experience with a finite number of zones and sub-levels. Your progression through the game is given all the more weight by virtue of the fact that there are even boss battles at the end of some stages.

Nazo no Kabe is one of the best puzzle games not only on the Disk System, but rates right up there with Dr. Mario, Tetris, and Snake, Rattle and Roll for best puzzle game of the 8-bit era. It truly is a shame that Konami skipped a North American localization and instead released the game under the name of Crackout on for the NES in Europe and Australia only.