Arkanoid 1 logo

ONLY the Japanese could take what is essentially a game of Breakout and add a plot. Apparently you were cruising along in the spaceship Arkanoid when the ship was destroyed.
You scrambled to safety but were captured in space by someone. Of course it isn't that simple. The time and era of the story are unknown.

Someone ought to point out to the authors that time and era are the same thing. They should also point out that it is impossible from the mother ship after it has been destroyed because firstly you would be destroyed with it and secondly it is paradoxical to leave something which doesn't exist anymore.
OK, I pretend to hear you say, but what about the game?

Arkanoid thinks it is an arcade machine. It isn't very far wrong. The conversion is by Discovery Software, infamous for the Marauder bit copier.
If it wasn't for the Discovery logo showing off with copper lists it could be passed off as a Taito product. The arcade identity extends to an insert coin (what, in the disc drive?), message and a number of credits. In ye olde arcade tradition one or two (alternate) players can be accommodated

The coin guzzler obviously had a load of spare memory left when the program was complete. This is used to display the spaceship Arkanoid. True to form, the game includes the scene, but when you have played the game a few times it starts to grate.
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. But when all is said and done, Arkanoid is a Breakout clone and Atari (boo, hiss), have taken Taito to court over this.

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.
The game returns to the picture of the stationary spaceship and prints out the message "Dimension controlling fort DOH has now been destroyed and time started flowing reversely. Vaus managed to escape from distorted space but the real voyage of Arkanoid in the galaxy has only started..."

When all is said and done this is still Breakout, but that does not detract from it being a very playable game.

Arkanoid 1 logo

Discovery Software

Bounce hungry arcade enthusiasts will have been drumming their keyboards restlessly at the complete lack of any decent Breakout style games on the Amiga. The clones which have appeared for it are all without exception shabby copes of the original. Now you have your chance with this imported version of the Taito coin-op, which revived it all in the first place. But at a price.

It strikes me as wholly unnecessary to describe the plot (the capsule in time somewhere bit) or the gameplay (nock bricks out) to anyone reading this. The game has appeared on just about every format and in every conceivable shape since it was released just over a year ago. What might be more use to perfectionists among you is to tell you just how close it is to the coin-op for your money.

To all intents and purposes, Discovery's version is arcade perfect. The graphics are as close as makes no difference and so is the sound. The most obvious difference is that you use the mouse. Now that is fine for some but I always find the thing gets stuck at a crucial moment and you end up watching the ball disappear past the bat. A bit like England's batsman facing Richard Hadlee. As a dedicated paddle user on the 64 version I would like to have seen the same concession.

Unlike the definitive Ocean version, you only get three lives on this one. You also have the option to control the speed of the ball by pressing keys 1-6. Quite why anyone would want any speed other than the natural one I am not sure, since the game is not as hard as the original or the 64. The reason I say that is because you seem to get more bonus capsules than is usual. In particular there seem to be a plentiful supply of lasers, a bonus rarer than a good T'Pau record on Dave Collier's Commodore version. Cheats who do not like some of the first twenty screens can choose where they want to start as well.

What you have with Discovery's job on Ark is as good a version as you could ever expect to have on a home computer. Any criticisms are really only nitpicking. The one thing you do not have on it is an affordable price. You have to have money to burn to buy it. An obscene amount of money. It is also not easy to come by. Meanwhile 64 owners can revel in the fact that they possess a game that, bug 'n all, is as good as the Amiga version and nearly a quarter of the price.