There’s something cathartic about grabbing a paddle and bouncing a rubber ball repeatedly into the air. A person might see how many times they can do it before the ball hits a ground. Another might see how high a peak they can make the ball reach. Others – those with untold skill – may get multiple balls into the air. Whatever your challenge, it’s hard to deny the sheer accessibility and joy of this quaint combo.
Breakout more or less digitized this classic pastime back in 1976. Since then, Breakout-style play has seen its share of variation and the original title has inspired oogles of copycats in the video game world, to the point of perhaps detrimental ubiquity (hell, my 10-year-old iPod Video has a click-wheel-controlled variant!) The developers of Siesta Fiesta clearly took one look at the genre and said “let’s do that, but make it really freaking unique.”
The player controls Siesta, a slumbering child who gets taken on a tour of Fiestaville, home to colorful-looking creatures called (appropriately) Fiestas. Siesta (unwittingly?) gets used as a ball to smash Pinata Blocks as he traverses the numerous landscapes Fiestaville has to offer, all thanks to his ever-bouncy bed that scrolls along with the environment. Upon hitting the floor and crashing, one of five Fiestas will rush onto the screen to get Siesta airborne once more so he can continue destroying obstacles while he dreams.
The biggest departure from the standard block-breaking gameplay is the aforementioned scrolling. Not only does the player have to account for the obstacles they’ve yet break, but they must keep in mind they won’t forever be in reach. Breaking blocks is important in Siesta Fiesta, but so is your advancement to the next zone. From the word ‘Go!’, the player must reconcile their thirst for a higher score with the task of making sure Siesta makes it out alive. Most levels are only 2-3 minutes in length and the Fiestas will rescue you five times before saying “this guy’s screwed” and leaving Siesta kaput for good, so chances are only newcomers to the genre and younger players will truly have trouble with making it to the next stage.
High scores are another matter. The touch screen displays a juice meter with benchmarks for you to reach based on set scores to be awarded medals. Bronze medals are a given, with silver and gold medals being the true prizes. Silver is fairly attainable, but you’ll have to work for it. Through my entire playthrough (one run through each of the game’s 64 stages), I not ONCE received a gold medal. I’m undoubtedly a genre apprentice at best, but Siesta Fiesta’s design makes it seem as if even masters of the realm will have to hone their Siesta-bouncing skills in order to earn each stage’s gold medal.
So how’s it all function? The player has three options in terms of bed control – the circle pad, D-pad or touch screen. Honestly, no one control scheme particularly outshines the other. All are responsive and it will really come down to player comfort/preference. I found myself preferring the circle pad of the three options, though I imagine a player focused on earning gold across the board might end up finding the stylus option slightly more precise for their efforts. Regardless of how you decide to move Siesta’s bed, the L, R and A buttons will each allow you to provide him with a big bounce to send him skyward with more force. Depending on which hand you use, the touch screen option will lock you into using the R or L button for this maneuver. Again, the buttons all feel equally responsive so you’ll just have to decide what combination most suits your personal style.
Siesta Fiesta is a block-breaker at its core, but the world breakdowns, scrolling, power-ups and design of each stage gives it a puzzle/platforming feel that keeps the game from becoming a quick bore. There are times when mechanisms will have to be activated in order to reach certain areas. Bumpers will pinball Siesta around to further escalate the perils of your effort. Heck, there are even boss stages! It at first gives the impression of a rudimentary iOS game (apparently, it started out as one), but one quickly realizes there’s some layering here. It’s a perfect pick-up and play title for a quick bus ride, but could just as easily lure in unsuspecting gamers and leave them wondering where the past hour of their life went.
For a budget eShop title, Siesta Fiesta delivers its cute visuals like a blockbuster (pun absolutely intended). With all the breaking and quick movement, there’s a lot of room for frames to drop yet never did things seem to get wonky in that regard. The 3D effects are surprisingly nice as well – better even than some recent first-party Nintendo titles – although it’s difficult to maintain a clear line of vision to best accommodate them because of the game’s nature. The game’s soundtrack and sound effects are also charming.