Taito has one of the most extensive back catalogues in the industry, and now they bring another classic to the iPhone, Arkanoid. Arkanoid is a brick breaker dating back to 1986. You play as the Vaus, a paddle shaped craft sent out to explore and find out what has gone wrong with the mothership, the Arkanoid. As Vaus you traverse obstacles by smashing them with bouncing intergalactic balls.
Actually I have never been aware that Arkanoid had a story but now I know the backstory, and I must say that the game feels a bit more trippy. The story is told in still images with some effects added, and a text above describing events. I enjoy having some goal with my brick breaking, and knowing that the Vaus is an entity and not just a handy paddle shaped object.
The controls in Arkanoid are all touch based, and works perfectly. As the game is played in portrait mode it can get a bit cramped when making quick movements of the Vaus. Worse still of you have a hefty case for your iPhone that adds bulk to the sides of the screen. Still this is my problem, and not Arkanoid’s fault but I just want to warn readers using cases like the Otterbox Defender.
As Vaus you bounce your balls at the brick destroying them all before proceeding to the next level. As you break bricks powerups fall down such as laser cannons letting you fire lasers with the Vaus by tapping it, disruption that adds multiballs, extended length of Vaus and a ball smashing through bricks instead of bouncing off them. The Vaus is also upgraded when you complete certain levels, and beat a boss. When starting a new game you can choose which version of Vaus to play with.
The game has branching levels letting you choose which zone to travel to. With a whooping 100 levels this gives quite a lot of variation in theory. Sadly though I find the game to be quite stale, and repetitive. Probably it was my hopes of seeing the same kind of revamp to the game that Space Invaders got with Infinity Gene. As it is now Arkanoid is just an ordinary brick breaker in the App Store. The only real sale points of Arkanoid s the story of Vaus, and the nostalgia for some players.
The pacing feels too slow in Arkanoid, and often I find myself watching a bouncing ball going back and forth between unbreakable blocks. Thankfully there are various monsters and object spawning at the top of the levels, and those interfere with the ball changing the trajectory. If they had not been there I would probably have had to restart some levels as the ball got stuck in a bounce.
Arkanoid is not a bad game at all as production values are high, game life is long and it has a quite nice two player mode. It is knowing what could have been made with the license, and the fact that there are a dozen brick breakers adding more new spins to the formula in the App Store at a fraction of the price.
If you want to play Arkanoid because of fond memories from yesteryears, by all means get it. It controls well, and the old school feeling is easily obtained. If you are new to Arkanoid I think you should pass on it until it drops in price significantly.
Presentation and graphics
Bright and colourful graphics throughout with some really well presented menus. I think there is a lack of a wow factor when it comes to explosions and effects in the game. The screen is small, and the tiny effects when bricks disappear are hard to experience. Arkanoid is zoomed out quite a bit compared to other games in the genre.
Arkanoid features great pounding retro music that is really enjoyable. The sound effects are ok, but nothing special. A lot of plinkety plonk as the ball hits unbreakable bricks. You can choose to have your own music for different areas of the game, which is quite cool. Having one track for the menu, and others for the different zones you travel.
Arkanoid feature three levels of difficulty, 100 branching levels, local high scores and unlockable Vaus versions. Still it becomes tedious quite quickly, and only those getting this for nostalgia will get their five bucks worth of fun. The two player mode is a neat addition.
Arkanoid is a quality title when it comes to production values, and controls. Still I think it feels uninspired, and somewhat dated. There are better brick breakers out there much cheaper, for example Radial 50 that Nigel gave 4,5 stars available at $1.99. Arkanoid is recommended only to those already familiar with the game.