Commodore User1st February 1987
Published in Commodore User #42
Who would have thought that six years after the Breakout boom the same basic game idea would make a reappearance at the beginning of '87 as Ocean's latest coin-op clone?
The Taito coin-op is proving just as popular in pubs and clubs as its brick wall precursor. It's not just the Taito game either as Sega are launching their own update of the video game classic and Gremlin Graphics are about to jump on the bandwagon with Krakout.
Of course all this lack of originality has to be covered up with a bit of blurb. In the case of Arkanoid it goes like this. An escape capsule, 'Raus', is jettisoned from the mothership Arkanoid and is trapped in a time warp with a series of brick-like structures in 33 weird and wonderful play levels.
A capsule is just the right word to describe your bat - it looks like one of those things you swallow when you have got flu.
As you break brings out of the walls they drop down the screen - some with letters on. Then, when caught, change the game. For example, the ball splits at a certain point and the game becomes frantic. To make this happen you have to catch a 'D' capsule that is thrown at you when you knock out a certain tile.
I loved this bit of the game. It reminded me of playing my favourite pinball that chucks two three balls at you at the same time if you amass enough points and light up the correct feature.
There are several other letter capsules with different functions. 'S' slows you down to a maddening snail's pace, 'E' enlarges your capsule to a huge size - a bit like Botham's famed 'six hitter', 'P' is an extra life, 'B' opens up an escape tunnel so that you can go immediately to the next sheet without clearing all the tiles.
Probably the most useful brick is the 'L' capsule; this turns yours into a laser so that you can start wasting tiles really quickly instead of having to laboriously bounce the ball off them.
Sometimes in the game you are left with one or two capsules that are difficult to hit because of their position on the board. This is where the 'C' tile comes in handy - it enables you to catch the ball and then throw it back at the target with greater accuracy than a quick bounce would allow.
Even the four aliens who rotate around the screen have been included.
The backgrounds are impressive too - like designer wallpaper patterns from Habitat. In fact, designer pinball is not a bad description for this slick but simple game.
If you own a C64 and you like Arkanoid, you would be a fool to every put another 10p piece in the coin-op. Why bother when you can play the same game at home? Full marks to Ocean team for another smashing conversion.