Arkanoid

Moby ID: 1087
Arcade Specs
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Description official descriptions

The original Breakout concept involves controlling a bat at the bottom of the screen and using it to catch and direct a ball so as to hit all the bricks which are arranged at the top of the screen. It was unpopular for over a decade, before Taito revived it with some new ideas in this arcade game.

The game's plot redefines the bat as a Vaus spaceship, the ball as an energy bolt, and the bricks form a mysterious wall stopping the ship from progressing to safety.

By the mid-80s, power-ups were popular in most types of arcade games, and Arkanoid features them. They are caught by positioning the bat below them as they fall (meaning that you risk missing the ball if you go for them at the wrong time). The power-ups include lasers (which are mounted to each side of the ship and allow you to shoot out the blocks), a catching device (so as to be able to fire the ball off at a different angle every time you hit it) and one that slows the bolt down.

Spellings

  • アルカノイド - Japanese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Arcade version)

12 People

Directed and Programmed by
Directer of Hardware and Co-programmer
Assistant Programmer
Graphic Designer
Sound Composer
Sound Effects
Pattern Designer
Software Analyzer
Mechanical Engineer
Publicity Supervisor
  • Varis.I
Game Designed by
Produced by
  • Taito Corporation

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 74% (based on 30 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 206 ratings with 5 reviews)

A perfect showoff game for the Commie

The Good
I was wondering recently, which Commodore 64 games would be the best for the occasion, that if you put it up running, any laic would get the idea what it is about without much additional explanation, while it laid-back shows the better side and overall aura of the system, and puts the awkwardly dated aspects behind. From those I have on the real machine, Uridium and Arkanoid are the perfect candidates.

I don't think Arkanoid needs much introduction. It is heavily inspired by Atari's "blockbusting" game Breakout from the late '70s, but it enhances the formula in just about every way with well thought-out elements in the Japanese way (a supposedly epic story, each level is unique, different power-up pills you also have to catch, randomly appearing alien lifeforms that get in the way, even a boss fight!) Like the most of Taito's games, It is simple but addictive, and became a hit in the arcades. Then it received conversions for just about every home system that were around at the time. In the latter half of the '80s, many arcade-to-C64 conversions have born in the UK with absolutely no support from the original developers, a big number of them became lack-luster and rushed, but Imagine did a very good adaptation of Arkanoid.

The graphics has fine pixel-art details on it and got a good usage of colors, with metallic blue as dominant. The sprites are fluidly animated. The iconic space destroyer ship on the title screen is drawn a little bit sloppy, but the low resolution of the C64 hides the imperfections unless you examine it more carefully.

The title music composed by Martin Galway is exclusive to this version, although he used an earlier form of the tune in the ZX Spectrum port of Cobra. It even has crude digitized sounds for the beat that play during the music. Also, there is a rendition of the Arkanoid theme at the end of the game that sounds ace! The in-game sound effects are no less awesome. Every sound is bassy and POWERFUL. A pleasure listening to them on a hi-fi system with volume high up (you might think it's obvious, but for example Rob Hubbard's tunes with a real SID chip sound on a hi-fi wrong for some reason.)

There are multiple options for controls. The game can be played with keyboard, joystick, mouse, and some unique controllers called paddles that are designed specifically for such kind of games. I personally use a Sega MegaDrive joypad which is much better than a joystick here. It is almost as sensitive as mouse controls in the DOS version, although the precision is a bit less accurate.

A two player mode is implemented, where each player can take their turn if the other player lost a life or finished a level. which is cool I guess. I haven't used this feature.

The Bad
It has no big flaws, just a few annoyances.

It is very hard! The ball constantly gets faster until it is impossible to keep up. You can pick up slowdown pills. With them, it gets really slow. The backside is that it already takes ages to clear out a level and get to the next one. When there are just a few blocks left on the level, the ball can keep bounce around without hitting anything but the side walls of the playfield. There are some power-ups that could help on this, like the missiles, or the early exit, but they are rare. And the game has 33 levels! Normally, you would need the patience and instincts of a spider to beat the game. Since I have a cracked version on the tapes I inherited with the system, it has trainers installed, which allow for more lives and a level selector. These are a must for me.

Sometimes the ball or the power-up pills fall through the paddle. I guess this happens when you touch them with the side of the paddle and not the exact top, but when it occurs, it's peculiar.

There are two things I miss: a pause feature and a highscore list.

The only problem with the music is that I have a machine with a newer, revised SID chip... yep, this means the awesome title music plays a little bit butchered, because the digitized beat is very quiet.

The Bottom Line
Talk about the aura of the C64, it's pure space-age science-fiction! A rather clunky and obsolete one, but it is nonetheless. And Arkanoid fits pretty well for that. Whenever I think of the C64, the aesthetics of Arkanoid come to my mind as well.

I do not recommend it for beginners, because it inherited the difficulty that was bent on to eat up all your coins in the amusement arcade. If you look for a more leisure Breakout fun, try out Krakout. Or a modern game.

Commodore 64 · by 1xWertzui (1135) · 2014

Breakout evolved...

The Good
Arkanoid is essentially an evolution of a 1980s game called Breakout, which goal was keeping track, with a platform, of a bouncing ball and use it for break blocks above the platform. However, Arkanoid wasn't a simple graphics and sound evolution, but also a gameplay evolution!

In Arkanoid, it was possible to obtain power-ups, like many arcade games at its time. One good power-up is multi-ball, in which player keeps track of three balls instead of one; another power-up is catching, in which player can catch the ball and press fire to release it. There are many other power-ups, like slow down, lasers and platform shorter.

The Bad
Arkanoid isn't an original idea. It was cloned from Breakout, although this was also a good game! Besides, levels are sometimes very hard, which makes gaming experience worse.

The Bottom Line
If you like Breakout, get and play Arkanoid! If you didn't play Breakout, it's worth to get and try Arkanoid. However, if you don't like Breakout nor Arkanoid, please don't swear me either, because it's a fact that both games are good. Just see the critics.

NES · by Gustavo Henrique dos Santos (97) · 2014

A fine, if tricky conversion

The Good
Being a simple bat and ball game, it's difficult to really improve upon the concept. What is Breakout will pretty much always remain Breakout.

What Arkanoid does is update the concept through presentation, and the CPC version hits the mark. The graphics are colourful, clear and as varied as one could hope for, the action (what little there is) is fast, and the musical interludes make great use of the AY chip - the introductory piece on starting a game is particularly great.

Essentially though, it's Breakout, and if you're after that you can do a lot worse.

The Bad
On the down side, it's tricky and not just because of design.

For a start, there's a huge difficulty spike in the form of level 3. Faced with a screenful of indestructible blocks, you'll be fighting against poor collision detection as the ball takes improbable bounces off horizontal rows, stumping the player and sending him praying for a level skip power up. It gets more forgiving, but a lot of the time you're relying on trial and error in order to clear each screen.

And, like any Breakout clone, it's very repetitive.

The Bottom Line
In the end, Arkanoid is a pretty damn faithful port of an arcade classic, and one of the better Breakout clones out there. It makes for a nice showcase of the machine's sound chip as well, but it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.

Amstrad CPC · by Liam McGuigan (3) · 2005

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of Arkanoid appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Commodore 64 title music

The Commodore 64 port of the game features an exclusive title soundtrack, with crude digitized beat sounds that play simultaneously with the tune. Martin Galway used the same music that he composed for the ZX Spectrum version of Cobra, but slightly polished it in on the C64.

Firebird Version

Firebird Software were producing a C64 conversion of the game by Lynnsoft. At the time Atari were suing Taito about how the game was a rip-off of Breakout. Atari looked like they were going to win so Firebird approached them with the game and Atari agreed. Taito won the lawsuit and so Firebird and Lynnesoft lost the rights to complete and release the game.

Game Art Beyond

In 2018, Arkanoid was selected as one of the biggest classics on the Commodore 64 by the creators of the C64 graphics collection Game Art Beyond. Arkanoid was honoured with a high resolution title picture (based on artwork for the SNES title Arkanoid Doh it again) in a special C64 graphics format called NUFLI, along with a new C64 SID interpretation of the Arkanoid title theme.

NES controller

The NES version of Arkanoid includes its own controller in the package (a smaller version of the spinner used in the arcade version). The game can also be played with the regular Nintendo controllers, but it is much harder this way since the paddle can't be moved as fast as with the spinner controller.

Other platforms

In the 1990's a series of ARGO TV system console variants were produced each containing multiple games. Arkanoid is part of the 84-in-1 game set. See here for pictures.

Regional differences

The Japanese NES version has three less levels than the US version. Also level 3 in the US version was made easier by switching out the unbreakable blocks with breakable ones.

Awards

  • Commodore Force
    • December 1993 (Issue 13) – #96 “Readers' Top 100”* Commodore Format
    • July 1993 (Issue 34) - Modern Classics: Oddities
    • March 1994 (Issue 42) – Heaven: Music of the Gods
  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #41 (Best 100 Games of All Time) (NES version)
  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue 100) - #57 in the Top 100 Games of All Time poll

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Thomson MO added by Trypticon. Arcade added by GTramp. BBC Micro added by fwibbler. Sharp X1 added by Infernos. Atari 8-bit, TRS-80 CoCo, Thomson TO added by Kabushi. ZX Spectrum, MSX added by Martin Smith. PC-98 added by Terok Nor. Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, NES, Apple II, Atari ST added by Servo. Macintosh, Apple IIgs added by Игги Друге. Amiga added by MAT. PC-88 added by j.raido 【雷堂嬢太朗】.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Alaka, Martin Smith, LepricahnsGold, Aaron A., Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Grandy02, piltdown_man, 1xWertzui, Malte Mundt, FatherJack.

Game added March 19, 2000. Last modified May 14, 2024.