Arkanoid 2: Revenge of Doh logo

CAN you remember when Breakout was described as knocking bricks out a wall? Well now they've changed the name and given it a new raison d'etre.
Actually, they did this ages ago with a plot the Beano would have rejected. I just can't imagine the bat as a spaceship and the ball as an energy bolt. Even the instructions can't keep up the pretence and resort to calling a spade a spade.

The Doh of the title is a dimension-controlling force which has entered our universe in the spaceship Zarg. Doh was thought to have been destroyed in the original Arkanoid game, but both it and the plot survived.
What the heck, it's still a good game. And so it should be - it was converted from the Taito coin-op by Peter Johnson, an old hand at conversions.

So there you are, batting balls around the screen trying to knock out these bricks. At various stages in the different screens aliens move in to hamper you. When these are hit they go out with the sound of a match striking.
The first few aliens are minor nuisances. Some are large and bounce all over the screen. Really annoying.

When hit, some of the bricks release capsules which have special powers - they may open the side wall, allowing you to move on to the next level, or they may turn your bat into a magnet so the balls stick to it.
Other capsules give you an extra life, slow down the ball, cause a ghost bat to follow you around, effectively increasing your chances of hitting the ball, and produce a twin bat effectively doubling the size of the bat - but watch out for the gap between them.
I like the laser, you can just blast the bricks away and forget about the ball.

Arkanoid 2: Revenge of Doh logo

Price: £24.95

They say that alcoholism causes in excess of one million lost working days a year in Great Britain. Exact figures are not yet available, but it is generally thought that at least that amount of time is lost annually due to the CU Staff's obsession with Arkanoid. The Ed has been frequently known to hide the disk in Tony Dillon's naff HM record-ridden backpack to keep it out of the hands of crazed employees over lunch hour (and beyond - Ed).

So when Imagine's sequel, Revenge of Doh, finally struggled through the Christmas post and landed on our desks, the typewriters ceased their (less than) incessant chatter.

The high priest of the Mean Machine (M. Patterson, for it is he) took the sacred object in his trice-blessed mitts, and intoning the appropriate runic mysteries, booted it and we all took in our first glace. Not so good, to our horror.

It is not that programmer Peter Johnson had not added and enhanced the original, he has, quite a bit. For the initiated, despite a hokey spaceage intro screen, Arkanoid was simply a very elaborate update on the age-old BreakOut concept, basically knocking out rows of bricks using bat and ball. Of course, there were lazer bats, multi-balls, sticky-bats, elongated bats, extra life icons and bonuses to pick up too.

Revenge of Doh added shrinking bats (a bummer), self generating multi-bats, super hard multi-balls, double-bats, the amazing mega-lazer which cuts through every brick it touches like a knife through hot butter (except the moving bats, that is) plus a whole new array of brick arrangements and added interfering nasties. But, unfortunately, the gameplay, sprite detection and graphics let this down - badly.

For a start, where the Discovery version was simple, colourful and razor-sharp, colourwise, RoD manages to be simple, colourful and seriously fuzzy. The bell vibrates in the air! Secondly, sprite detection is poor and in a game where precision is essential, bad sprite detection is frankly disastrous. And the combination of these two faults renders the gameplay unpredictable, and therefore naff.

All of which is not to say that I have not spent quite a while on this game - I have. The original concept is so brilliantly simple, and so simply brilliant that, warts and all, Revenge of Doh could not ever be a total turkey.