Commodore User

Arkanoid Revenge Of Doh

Author: Gary Penn
Publisher: Imagine
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #55

Arkanoid: Revenge Of Doh

I've had it up to here (lifts hand to eyebrows) with these 'contemporary' BreakOut variants. For a start, there are too many of them. Why software companies can't come up with something mind-blowingly original once in a while, I don't know. But that's not what irritates me. No, what I find really annoying about these dressed-up versions of a concept almost a decade old is the fact that they're so bloody playable, regardless of their quality.

Arkanoid: Revenge Of Doh is the latest addition - and rather neat it is too. Based on the Taito coin-op of the same name, this psuedo sequel to Arkanoid (I'm assured by Ocean's Gary Bracey that this isn't Arkanoid II - that's yet to come) has you battling through 33 more screens of bricks and aliens. Actually, there's a bit more to it then before. This time there are 66 screens to play (although you only get to play 33 in one go), plus a couple of new aliens and some rip-snorting new features.

But first, the scenario... Doh's back, and he wants revenge. It's up to you to stop him... erm, and that's it.

Arkanoid II: Revenge Of Doh

All the old favourites are here, such as bat expand, catch, slow ball, disrupters and everyone's favourite, the lasers (thankfully they appear more frequently in this version that they did in Imagine's conversion of its predecessor). But there's more: ... bat reduction capsules - catch one and the Vaus 2 (that's the bat!) shrinks faster than a certain part of the male anatomy in very cold water. You can pick up an extra bat and play with two at once (coo!) or a ghost bat - basically a second, shimmery bat that follows your bat as you move. Catching a capsule marked with an 'H' splits the ball into three - and keeps splitting the balls whenever you lose one or two of them. The 'D' capsule has a more dramatic effect than before though. This time it splits the ball into at least a dozen pieces.

Then there's the 'M' capsule which turns any balls on-screen into armour-piercing red balls, which rip through everything in their path. And last not not least, we have the fireball - seldom seen, but very effective when caught as it does some pretty special things... like split the ball into 32 pieces!

Other noticeable differences between this version and its predecessor are that more than one capsule falls at once - very useful. Also, there are two new brick types to contend with, moving bricks and bricks which reappear a couple of seconds after they've been destroyed. Both provide their fair share of problems, as does the alien on level 18, who can only be destroyed with multiple hits - and there are no capsules to help you!

Now all this would be well and good, what with the gear new features and the like, if Arkanoid: Revenge Of Doh was as slick and playable as the original Arkanoid. But, sadly, it's not quite as much fun the second time around. For some bizarre reason, the ball occasionally passes through the bat, despite making a noise to indicate that you've actually hit the ball. Marginally more annoying is the fact that the ball changes speed and direction rather unsubtly and unpredictably. But the biggest disappointment for me is that some of the screens are ludicrously unplayable and extremely tedious. There's a very fine line between screens requiring skill to clear them and screens totally dependent on luck, and the designers of some of these screens didn't tread that line very carefully. Fortunately, you can choose which screens you wish to play by moving either left or right when you clear a screen of bricks. Thus you can play screen four to the right followed by screen five to the left if you don't like screen five to the right. Get the idea?

Still, there's plenty of good, clean fun to be had here - if you haven't yet tired of the genre.

Gary Penn

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