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The lack of in-game music may
seem like a detriment, but the sounds of the ball hitting the paddle
and bricks have a nice, soothing, almost hypnotic effect at times.
Note: the game was originally released with an analog Vaus spinner
controller, which while not required, is really the true way to play
and enjoy the game. For the genre, it doesn’t get much better.
If you can find this thing with the Arkanoid controller definitely buy it. Even without the controller the game is very fun, just be warned that it can be very frustrating.
Overall, you know what you are getting into when you play Arkanoid. There are many different ways to play this title, or one of its sequels. If you are looking to play on a current generation console, there are versions on both the Xbox 360 and the Wii. Sticking to the older 8 or 16-bit versions of the game gives you the intended feel the developers were aiming for. The great news is that the title can be picked up for under $10 anywhere really. If you are searching for the NES version with the Vaus controller, be prepared to pay close to $40 for the package. In either case, I most certainly recommend Arkanoid. In my opinion, it is the definitive breakout-type series on the market. Being the first title in the series, this is where it all begins.
A marvelous port of Taito's Breakout-inspired game from 1986, Arkanoid for the NES comes packaged with a special "Vaus" controller, which allows for arcade-like rotary control.
Arkanoid is a great update of the classic Breakout formula, but it's hard to enjoy the game when it repeatedly beats you over the head with its extreme difficulty. In my opinion, there are Arkanoid clones, such as Crack-Up! (1989, Atari 8-bit), that do a much better job of balancing everything in a more player-centric manner.
The power-ups are where the game gets interesting. My favorites are the laser (which you can use to destroy bricks from your “ship”), the “sticky” (where the ball sticks to your paddle for a brief time), and the multiplier. Within the first few stages, Arkanoid grows impossible with the regular NES controller. The platform/ship is so sensitive to movement that barely touching ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ on the D-pad can throw your entire game off. Is the Vaus controller really better? I can only assume that it is. Conclusion: if you can find Arkanoid on the NES, complete and intact, give it a twirl. Otherwise, it’s not worth the migraine.
Arkanoid is a disappointment in many ways. The major problem here that's clear is that the programmers, while porting the original arcade version, did little to adjust the basics. Let's remember something here, arcade games then and now have one primary function, making money. What's the best way to do this? Make it so the player has a difficult time beating it so they keep pumping in quarters. This explains why the difficulty in the NES version is so ridiculous at times, they didn't change it by adding a password feature, continues or anything. It's essentially as close a port to the arcade as you could get on the NES. This, of course, leads to a game that is likely to anger anyone who tries to play it for long enough. It's too hard and has too many minor flaws to stand as a classic. Hopefully this review will serve to stomp it down a few notches.
This game offered me something of a revelation, which I don't think is listed among its official product features. But it occurred nonetheless. You see, I think part of the reason The Man approves of 70+ year copyright terms is because he can still make money off of simple arcade games like this. Tiny amounts of money, but still money. Perhaps enough to buy another champagne flute for the bar on his yacht, or pay his pool servant Julio for a full month. What's the connection here? Well, I guarantee you've already played Arkanoid, most likely on your cell phone in someplace boring, possibly in class on your snappy Texas Instruments graphics calculator, but almost certainly somewhere. Arkanoid is an exact clone of Atari's Breakout, made back in the 80s before they invented "copyright infringement."