Arkanoid: Revitalized the Atari block-breaker genre

Arkanoid is a 1986 block breaker arcade game developed and published by Taito. Created by Taito designers Akira Fujita and Hiroshi Tsujino, Arkanoid was made to expand on the block breaker concept established in Atari’s Breakout, a successful game released in 1976. Arkanoid proved to be very successful and surpassed Taito’s initial expectations. The game was commended by critics for its gameplay, simplicity, addictive nature and improvements over the original Breakout concept. But when all is said and done, Arkanoid is a Breakout clone and Atari started legal actions against Taito.

The game helped revitalize the block-breaker genre and set the groundwork for many games to follow and Arkanoid was ported to many home video game platforms. In a slight deviation from the arcade original you can select any of the first 20 levels from which to start. That’s great since level three can be a real pig. The graphics are superb. The backgrounds and the shadows look identical to those on the Taito machine, the sounds are identical. You bounce a ball off a bat, which in a desperate attempt to hold the pilot together is the Vaus spaceship you escaped in. The ball hits bricks which disappear. Destroy all the bricks to finish the sheet.

In an attempt to persuade the coin-dropping community of the world that this is not a Breakout rip-off there are some neat features. Grey bricks need to be hit more than once, copped coloured ones cannot be destroyed but make it harder to get at the ordinary bricks behind them. Ordinary bricks can contain bonus cylinders which roll down the screen and offer extra facilities for the player. These include a twin barrelled laser, a sleeping tablet which slows the ball down, a catch pod which will let you hold the ball to aim it at a brick, and an expander which gives you a fat bat. Then there is a disruptor which gives you three balls with which to juggle and do a lot more damage, a bonus which sucks you through a hole on to the next screen and an extra life.

You can have as many extra lives as you like, but only the first five will be displayed. A minor problem is that the laser looks as though it fires two shots, but if one hits a block they both stop. Having battled, bounced and shot your way through 32 sheets you are confronted by Doh, a large head which spits sheets of metal at you. You retaliate by bouncing the ball back. Each time the ball hits the head weakens. But if you get hit by the metal or miss the ball the head returns to full strength. Eventually the head flashes, turns blue and fades to black. You have won. Arkanoid was followed by a number of direct and indirect sequels on Xbox, Wii and iOS.

new source: various sources / image source: GenerationAmiga / watch on Youtube / download Arkanoid (Mac/68k, MS-DOS, Amiga, C64, Atari)

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