In memoriam, Donald Sutherland


Moby ID: 1087

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 74% (based on 30 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 207 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

Only the Japanese could invent something like this

The Good
In the late Seventies, we were introduced to Breakout, a game from Atari where you had to destroy the bricks on the screen to go to the next level. You have to do this again, and again, and again. Although it was popular at the time, gamers eventually got fed up with it. Then, along came Arkanoid in 1986, a clone with improved graphics, great sound, and better gameplay mechanics.

The most important elements are the wide range power-ups that the player can get if they hit certain blocks, and these power-ups offer former Breakout players something new. Of those that are available, I like the laser power-up. I also like the way that monsters appear and make their way down toward you. This is a challenge, as it makes the ball change course whenever it hits a monster, forcing you to stay on your toes.

Arkanoid for the Amiga was developed by Discovery Software, the same bozos who made the Marauder disk copier. Their logo is seen throughout the game, below the score, and it is animated by a moving gradient. The same effect can be seen in their disk copier, when one or more disk drives are idle.

One thing that makes this version stand out is the level selector that appears when you start the game. Using the mouse, you can select what round you want to start on, from one to twenty. This is a useful feature to anyone, because, let's say, you are on round eleven, but you end up losing all your lives no matter how hard you try. Using the level selector, you can start on round twelve.

The title screen looks excellent, and the demo just shows how good the graphics are when you compare them to the arcade version. The monsters from the future rounds remind me of those health atoms from the first Duke Nukem game. Also, I like how the blocks are laid out in some rounds, taking the shape of a Space Invader, umbrella, and even the Atari logo.

The sound effects are nice to hear, with the most common ones heard when the ball hits both you and the blocks. The music is well composed. You can use the keyboard or mouse to control the bat. Controlling the bat with the mouse is easier to use, as the mouse is designed for Arkanoid and its sequels, then you can use the left mouse button to shoot blocks with your laser.

The Bad
When you fight Doh in the end and are making good progress, I didn't like the way when you lose a life, all your shots are for nothing.

The Bottom Line
This is a very good game that most of the Breakout fans should enjoy. What Taito did with take the game and expand on it by adding an introduction, improved graphics, power-ups, and monsters. I read that because of this, Atari took the company to court. Fortunately, they must have won otherwise there wouldn't be any sequels.

Although all conversions are good, it is the Amiga version that shines. As well as having a round selector, the graphics are so identical to the arcade version. The sound is very good also. If you are a fan of Breakout, then give this game a go.

Amiga · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2012

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

Best breakout clone ever.

The Good
Arkanoid is the best game of its kind ever. The most memorable game I played on the XT, I truly love this little gem. Faithfully converted from the arcade, Arkanoid PC version actually has far better gameplay -- beter controls and no money-spending. What more can you ask?

With reasonable graphics, great controls, excellent leve design and Martin Gallaway's memorable musical piece, Arkanoid is one of the better games I ever played. I actually completed it on the Amiga a couple of months ago -- with a score of 920420 points! Beat that!

The Bad
It ends...

The Bottom Line
One of my favorite games and all around best breakout clone. Only game that comes close to it is Popcorn...

DOS · by Tomer Gabel (4536) · 2000

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

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Jo ST, Tim Janssen, Hello X), RhYnoECfnW, Alsy, S Olafsson, Patrick Bregger, Wizo, Игги Друге, Alaka, Scaryfun, Ritchardo, Ryan DiGiorgi, RetroGamesAmateur.