When it comes to filling in one’s collection of games Mario has appeared in, one mustn’t overlook the U.S. launch titles for the original Game Boy. Naturally, there’s the obvious in Super Mario Land, but the plumbing protagonist really pulled his weight as the company’s mascot with the launch of the portable platform. And at the top of that non-eponymous list (alphabetically speaking) is Alleyway.
You wouldn’t know it at first glance (that is, unless you happened to be looking at the game’s original North American box art, seen above) but this Breakout-styled game places players in the role of Mario, who — according to the game’s box — is controlling a spaceship at the “gate of the Alleyway,” where it is used to deflect an energy ball to “atomize space grids.”
Mildly intense stuff for a game about using a paddle to break blocks.
You don’t see Mario himself for very much of the game, though. At the start, he runs out to hop into the aforementioned spaceship; miss too many energy balls on the rebound, however, and he abandons ship, leaping from the craft and clear off the screen to Miyamoto only knows where.
That isn’t all, however! Every fourth level is a bonus stage, wherein the blocks are arranged in such a way as to resemble the pixel art of Mario and an assortment of his foes from the original Super Mario Bros., including Koopa Troopa, Blooper, Piranha Plant, Bullet Bill, Goomba, Cheep-Cheep, and even King Bowser Koopa himself.
It’s anyone’s guess as to why the developers didn’t instead use foes from Super Mario Land as a means of cross-promotion and brand synergy, but it is what it is: A decent Breakout clone with a Mario flavor that makes it an essential addition to the collection of any true red-and-blue Mario completionist.