Dexanoid R1 is one of the largest and best homebrew games released for the Nintendo 64. It was developed by Protest Design and released back on December 20th 1999. The game is a clone of Arkanoid and a very good one at that. It features 50 levels, 20 backgrounds, 10 BGM tracks, 40 types of bricks, lots of sound effects, and plenty of other goodies. All of this clocks in at a massive 16 MB ROM size, which is larger than some commercial Nintendo 64 releases.
In Dexanoid you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen that moves left and right. The goal is to use this paddle to keep hitting a ball upwards towards a bunch of bricks. When you hit a brick it disappears, and when you clear all the bricks you win the level. If you miss hitting the ball and it falls below you will lose a life. Some bricks you hit will give you power-ups such as a shooting ability to destroy bricks or putting 3 balls on the screen at once. Some bricks also aren't meant to be destroyed and are just put there to get in your way and make the game harder. As usual with Arkanoid, one of the best strategies is to get the ball above a bunch of bricks where it can bounce around knocking out several of them before you even have to hit it again.
Dexanoid features some very good physics making it easy to control the direction and speed of the ball based on where it hits your paddle. The game also has some very wide levels. You won't be able to see everything on the screen at once and will have to move left and right. This does add a bit of difficulty, but it doesn't make the game annoying. The paddle is controlled with the analog stick and moves very fast. You'll have no issue keeping up with the ball. A Nintendo 64 controller with a good analog stick is definitely recommended for this game as with a worn one it will be difficult to hit the ball precisely.
Everything in the game looks good graphics-wise. The backgrounds are all nice and varied and never conflict with the gameplay in front of them. Each of the game's 40 bricks all look unique and are coloured differently. The game lets you view each brick and see its effect if it has one.
The music is decent and fits with the game. When a track ends, a new one starts. Some tracks have actual voices in them and the voice quality can be a bit lacking. Nothing is too stellar but it all works.
The options menu has a picture showing the games controls which is helpful for new players. There's also a cheat code input option. Cheat codes in this game are 4 numbers long and the full list of them can be found towards the bottom of this article. Entering any cheat code a second time will deactivate it. This game also has an option called Dexa Design. This is what you would click when you made your own content on the PC. Level editors were available for this game for Windows and DOS.
Dexanoid is tested and working on most classic back-up units as well as the Everdrive 64. PC Emulation will vary greatly as expected. Unfortunately the game does not seem to have any kind of save support which you'd almost expect for a release like this.
Dexanoid is an excellent homebrew effort and a great showcase of what dedicated developers can achieve on the Nintendo 64, especially without any of Nintendo's development tools. The game is definitely worth a download and you can get the game right here. Below is a file that contains a few things. You'll find the Dexanoid NTSC ROM, a patch that converts it to the PAL format, a trainer patch, and both level editors. Crazy Nation had developed a trainer for the game two days after Dexanoid was released that adds 6 cheat codes for you. You can turn these cheat codes on and off as you play which is great. The level editors are there if you can manage to get either to work.
Cheat Code List
||Changes the default ball into a basketball.
||Allows a second player plugged into controller input 2 to join.
||Changes the default ball into a Soccer Ball.
||Changes the default ball into Rayman's head.
||Allows a third player plugged into controller input 3 to join.
||Allows you to move your paddle anywhere on the screen.
||Press C-Down to auto-complete the level you're on.
||Allows a fourth player plugged into controller input 4 to join.
||Changes the default ball into a baseball.
||Changes the default ball into Mario's head.
At first Protest Design released the codes for the Basketball and the Soccer Ball and then said they would release the rest of the codes later. I don't think they ever got around to it though. My good friend SubDrag had to poke through the ROM to find the rest of the codes, so thanks to him. If you enter multiple ball codes, the game will only use the last code you entered.
Dexanoid can be played with up to 4 players, but it's not much fun having multiple people go after the same ball. That's likely why they put the multiplayer as a cheat bonus instead of in the main game. If you want to do a 3 player game, then you need to enter the codes for Player 2 and then Player 3. If you want to do a 4 Player game then you need to enter the codes for Player 2, Player 3, and then Player 4.
Dexanoid Game Credits
||Memir, Renderman, Koreaner
||Protesters, Anja, Heike, Peter, LaC, Hartec, Actraiser
Written by Kevin Ames
May 17 2014