Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Mike Lamb
A major interstellar catastrophe has occurred! The giant spaceship Arkanoid has exploded and a small shuttle craft, The Vaus, has scrambled away, only to be sucked into a void inhabited by 'The Dimension Changer'. This horrid creature has transported The Vaus into a strange dimension - a void consisting of 32 block-patterned screens. In order to escape, The Vaus has to move from one screen to another clearing each screen of blocks, finally confronting the Dimension Changer on Level 33 in a battle to the death.
The Vaus sits at the bottom of the screen, and a ball is launched into the playing area. This ball bounces around the screen and ricochets off the sides, destroying the blocks on contact. The player moves The Vaus left and right, attempting to prevent the ball from leaving the screen.
Not all of the blocks explode on first contact. Some take a more severe beating before they disappear, and others drop a spinning capsule which can be collected to gain a feature - such as an expanded bat, a slower ball, the ability to catch and relaunch the ball, a laser to shoot at the bricks, an escape route to the next screen, an extra life and the ability to split the ball into three separate spheres.
Seemingly harmless aliens float about, but despite their appearance they pose an indirect threat to the Vaus - when one of these wandering obstacles is hit by the ball, it explodes and sends the ball flying off in the opposite direction.
Failing to stop the ball from leaving the screen loses a life, although extra lives can be earned at regular point intervals - or by collecting a capsule marked with 'P'.
Control keys: left CAPS SHIFT-V, right B-SPACE, fire A-L
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour: bright and attractive
Graphics: smooth but unimaginative
Sound: spot FX, not tune
Skill levels: one
Aaaaaaaaaagh this is terrible - I'm addicted to a badly programmed Breakout variant, my street cred is never going to recover! The programmers have a lot to answer for, the collision detection is awful (a major problem for a Breakout game), and the program changes speed at the most illogical moments. To top it all there's a scenario - that's right, a scenario! Could you think of anything more irrelevant to put in a game like this? You have to sit through 30 seconds of tedious waffle at the start of each game. But despite all this the gameplay is still there, and the whole thing is disturbingly compelling. However I'm sure that Arkanoid will lose its appeal fairly quickly.
Whatever next! Will flares be back in fashion this year? it seems a distinct possibility if the fashion industry follows IMAGINE 'S example to the computer industry. Arkanoid contains no addictive qualities at all. It's extremely boring to play and very easy to leave on the shelf. The Thru The Wall game that comes free with a Spectrum is more fun to play than this. Graphics are very simply defined, and poorly animated.
What can I say? It's something like five years since the release of the Spectrum, and someone is still trying to flog a version of the game that was given away with the very first machine! Not only that, but this version isn't what I would expect after five years of development. The additions to the bat are great, but the game really falls down due to the speed variations. Somehow, though, someone has managed to put some addictivity into a game whose programming defies such a compliment. Generally, a slightly above average product that could have converted well from the arcade machine, but has been let down by poor programming.
Vaus ist los? A spacecraft lost in the perilous backwaters of space and time? Cast into outer darkness, though it seems reasonably well lit to me? Ah, but you know what Arkanoid's all about - it's that viciously addictive update of the mother and father of computer games, Breakout - all battering balls against bricks, but with knobs on. It wowed 'em in the arcades, and now all 33 screens of nut-crunching action have been converted to the Speccy. Imagine has done a fine job, and the result is one of the best games you'll see on the Spectrum this year.
Yes, I know we've said it before, but it really is that good. Each screen has a different pattern of bricks to knock off, and they're all extremely tricky - at least I think so, since I haven't got beyond level 9 yet. Most bricks need just a single hit, but silver ones must be pinged twice (and on later screens, anything up to five times) and gold ones are indestructible.
You also get little power capsules which drop down the screen occasionally when you hit certain bricks. If you can manoeuvre yourself to collide with one of these before you go back to meet the approaching ball, all sorts of weird and wonderful things can happen.
Fortunately the capsules are lettered, so the eagle-eyed will get an idea of what's about to befall them. Best in the early stages is the 'E' capsule, which extends the length of your bat (or Vaus craft) so you can be sure to get it in the right place. The 'S' capsule slows down play, though not for as long as you might hope. Still, it's a useful ploy on later screens when things start getting a little hectic. 'P' gives you an extra life, while 'L' arms you with a laser that'll destroy both the bricks and the tiresome nasties that drop down from the top of the screen and obstruct all your careful planning. 'C' allows you to pick up the ball when you intercept it and then move position before firing it off again. 'D' is an odd one - it multiplies the ball by three, making it three times as effective, if three times as difficult to play. It comes into its own, though, when your ball is stuck behind or within a wall. Then watch the bricks go!
But the best capsule of all is the 'B' one. Pick this one up and a short cut through to the level appears on your next right.
All these capsules last only until you bump into another one, or until you die - a good incentive not to let your lives ebb away too swiftly! One dead easy way of losing a life is to assume that if you hit the ball on the very edge of your bat. It'll make contact. Wrong! You're only really safe in the centre, and if you're trying for a really whizzy angle to get at some awkward bricks, you've got to be a bit nifty about it.
Anyway, enough of all that - I'm going back to play Arkanoid again. My excuse - further "research". My reason - well, how many ways are there of saying addictive, 'cos this is that and more.
Author: Mike Lamb
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Arkanoid is Imagine's umpteenth licence tie-in.
So far - as licences go - the arcade conversions have been infinitely superior to the TV/film links and this fits the trend.
Arkanoid comes from the Taito arcade machine and is completely wonderful.
Old timers, having seen the screenshots, will be scoffing loudly, claiming that it's exactly the same a Breakout. And this is, in fact, not all that far from the truth. Breakout was invented years ago and it featured a bat and a ball and a wall. The object was to keep bouncing the ball (a white blob) off the wall at the top of the screen and not let it slip past you on the re-bound.
Now Ocean's game is at least a couple of generations down the line. It's still got the bat and the ball (still a white blob) and a wall of some sort but there are so many little twiddles and added bits, accusations of unoriginality are really a bit pointless.
The plot tells of how your mothership, Arkanoid was destroyed, leaving only a shuttle craft, Vaus. In order for things to be well with the universe, you must destroy 32 levels of walls before reaching the Dimension Changer which will allow you to reverse time and bring back Arkanoid. OK, the plot stinks.
Hit Fire and you're off. You're the blocky thing at the bottom of the screen. The ball sits on the top of your craft and after a couple of seconds, it'll fly up toward the top of the screen. It won't get particularly far before slapping into a large coloured square and being bounced back down again.
All pretty familiar so far.
A few bounces on and that's all changed. A kind of Hedex tablet with a letter on will drift down the screen. Now, each tablet does different things for you. For example, if you guide Vaus into one with the letter S on, the ball will slow down. One with a C on it gives your ship a kind of sticky property: the ball will stop when you touch it, and you can then move to whichever position you like before launching it again.
Other letters make your ship wider (thus making it easier to hit the ball), give you extra lifes, move you to the next level or break the ball into three parts.
This last offers you a very strange kind of bonus situation where you have to juggle three balls instead of one. The final tablet arms your ship with lasers which can blast away walls and aliens.
Oh, I hadn't mentioned the aliens before, had I? They appear at the top of the screen and work their way down. The higher the level, the more numerous and infuriating they are. You can destroy them by crashing the ball into them, but this deflects its flightpath.
That's the game, but it's all wrapped up in slick graphics and super-smooth movement.
Despite it's relatively primitive roots. Arkanoid is a quite extraordinarily playable game.
MACHINES: Spectrum/C64/Amstrade/Atari ST
PRICE: £7.95 (Spec), £8.95 (C64, AMS), £14.95 (Atari ST)
VERSIONS TESTED: Spectrum/C64
Not since Ikari Warriors has the C+VG office seen such bloodshed! Yup, we've been fighting over the joystick again - this time just to get to grips with Imagine's instant smash arcade conversion Arkanoid.
Our arcade ace Clare Edgeley raved about the Taito coin-op when it first appeared - and now we're going to rave about the computer conversions.
OK, so in all reality Arkanoid is a revamped version of Breakout, that ancient game which us ancient gameplayers sometimes brush the cobwebs off to relive great moments of gaming history.
Trouble is Arkanoid is just awesomely addictive and extremely playable. You're hooked from the moment you load up the game.
So what's it all about? Well, you're in charge of a Vaus craft - sounds like some sort of German rodent - and you're supposed to be trapped in space.
Armed only with an energy bolt you have to break down mysterious barriers preventing your escape. These barriers are built of "bricks", Breakout - see!
Anyway you have to blast away at these bricks by using the Vaus craft as a bat - hitting the energy bolt back and forth off the walls. Energy capsules drop down from the wall as you destroy it. Collect these, they are useful items. Each has a codeletter on them which lets you know what they do.
S: Slows down the speed of the energy bolt, making it easier to position yourself.
C: Enables you to catch the bolt, move to the desired position and then fire.
E: Expands the Vaus craft, giving you more chance to deflect the bolt.
D: Disrupts the bolt into three separate components thereby giving you three times the effect.
L: Arms your Vaus with a laser allowing it to shoot bricks and aliens.
B: Breaks the section of the wall enabling your Vaus craft an alternative escape route to slip through to the next level.
P: Awards you an extra life.
On screen displays show your current score, hi-score, number of lives remaining and level attained. Points are awarded between 50 and 120 for knocking out a brick, depending on the colour. Collecting a capsule is 1000 and hitting an alien scores 100 points.
There are six levels of differing complexity. You'll need to work out a good strategy for each screen to succeed - but always be ready to allow for the unexpected incident - that odd bounce etc.
Opinion is divided herebut the 64 'ers among the team rate Krackout a nose in front of Arkanoid simply because of the joystick response.
Spectrum, C64, Amstrad £2.99
Another re-release, this time the conversion of the classic Breakout derivative coin-op. Thirty two levels are simply aching to be beaten before you can get to the big baddie at the very end. Sitting snugly inside your Arkanoid fighter craft (which bears a startling resemblance to a Breakout bat), blast the enemy missile against the defence wall, picking up the power-ups as they fall. Points are scored for each brick hit, and when the wall is completely destroyed you move to the next, more difficult stage.
Arkanoid is a great Breakout game, and a smashing arcade conversion. The graphics aren't spectacular, but neither were those of the original; it's the gameplay that counts, and this game scores highly in that department. A must for everyone who enjoys bat 'n' ball games.
Spectrum Cassette: £7.95
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.95
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £8.95
Atari ST £14.95
NEW BALLS PLEASE
Balls are a bit 'in' at the moment. Especially, it would appear, when they are smashing multicoloured bricks to pieces. Breakout clones are suddenly appearing in vast quantities and spreading faster than Wordstar or Knight Lore clones did. Richard Eddy gives a personal run-down...
Taito, the company which produced the corky coin-op Arkanoid, are probably to blame for unleashing the craze, and then Ocean for producing a series of very competent conversions for the home micros. The ST version is undoubtedly the superior, retaining all of the arcade's original features - if it wasn't for the small screen you could almost think it was the arcade original. Imagine have just released it for the IBM PC.
Following in Ocean's footsteps came Gremlin's Krackout, which was somewhat jollier but slower and really didn't have the addictiveness Arkanoid provided.
Not to be outdone Elite shoved in their fourpenneth in the shape of Batty which now features on Hit Pak 2. Written by an ex-Ultimate programmer, Batty was polished and showed greater graphical sophistication than Arkanoid. And then everyone breathed a sigh of relief thinking that it was over...
'Not on your nelly!' shouted Audiogenic, Alligata, Pirate and CRL in unison, all proffering their latest versions which are: Impact, Addictaball, Smash Out! and Ball Breaker.
Apart from the games, comparing inlay storylines proves most interesting. Pirate's budget Smash Out! goes for a desperately-try-to-be-convincing story where the bat is supposed to be a spaceship lost in space and bricks are blobs of plasma, while Ball Breaker claims the ball is some chappie called Ovoid on a mission of annihilation. Personally I prefer Impact's 'Trapped in a 1970s arcade machine...' or Alligata's straight for the throat approach with '...I have difficulty imagining a bat is a spaceship... so let's call things a bat, ball and bricks - it's much easier!' And so it is.
I think you can quite happily disregard Smash Out; it is little more than a poor man's Arkanoid with measly graphics, nauseous sound and the addictiveness of drying paint. Okay, so it may have screen designer thrown in, but even this is fiddly to use and does nothing to push up Smash Out's credibility.
There's a lesson to learn here - if you are going to produce a clone you have to do it very well, or devise a novel twist on the formula. Which is what CRL did with Ball Breaker, originally released for the Amstrad CPC range, it took Breakout into 3-D and worked well with some great sound effects and a colourful layout. Ball Breaker is just released for the Spectrum and retains its playability - although to avoid colour clash the monochromatic graphics can make it difficult to see exactly where to position your bat. Complete with all the typical features, it also includes a laser gun which stays with you throughout the game. Ball Breaker adds up to a worthwhile buy if you fancy a different twist on the rest - and soon to be available on the Atari ST and Amiga.
Audiogenic, quiet for some time, return to our 16-bit screens with the elaborate Impact for the Atari ST and Amiga (and hopefully soon for the Spectrum and Commodore 64/128). Impact is quite the connoisseur's Arkanoid cleverly topped off by some great sounds (each brick, alien and the bat produces an individual sound, so occasionally it sounds like a decent tune gone wonky!). Graphically, it is what you would expect from 16-bit, utilising colour very well and sharp definition to add that extra bit of class to the aliens.
What gives it that little extra push is the novel way in which features, such as lasers, bat expand and catch are collected - a la Nemesis. Yellow tokens spin down from selected bricks when destroyed and, if collected, are stored in the power select pad at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Pressing the mouse button when one is collected makes the ball slow down, collecting two and then pressing the button gives you the catch effect and so on through divide (3 balls), expand, torch (to see hidden bricks), laser, smart bomb (to destroy aliens), missile and forcefield, which doesn't have the rebound effect off bricks, but simply continues to smash its way round the screen until hitting a wall where it bounces off.
With 80 screens and 48 more you can design yourself using the easy-to-use screen designer, Impact definitely wins my approval as being the best just for sheer addictiveness.
But coming a close second is Addictaball from Alligata, which doesn't quite make it to the very top for the simple reason that it falls down on presentation and graphics. The use of colour is very dull on the first levels - mainly greys, greens, and blues used for the bricks and surroundings - which doesn't do much to create an exciting atmosphere.
However, Addictaball proves to be quite novel in the way the bricks slowly scroll down the screen in one long trail - its great saving grace. The trail can prove to be frustrating when, having died, you are returned to the beginning, or one of the internal stages within a level. Two weapons, laser gun and thruster (which allows you to move up and down the screen) can be collected at the very beginning, though they have to be replenished frequently by hitting the correct bricks.
Along the bottom of the screen is a barrier preventing the ball from disappearing but this gradually gets destroyed by the shower of fireballs which come down the screen, unless the fireballs are destroyed with the bat before they reach the bottom. There are cars, bikes and the like to be battered along the way which, if nothing else, adds a bit of humour to the game.
So, now what? Do we dare breathe a sigh of relief or is the next parcel we open going to be Revenge Of The Mutant Bouncing Balls From Jupiter...?
STOP PRESS! No relief breathing yet! We have just received Reflex from Players priced at £1.99 for the MSX...!
WELCOME TO 2ND GENERATION BREAKOUT.
My first reaction when I saw this was to think that Imagine had a bit of a cheek to try and pass off a tarted up version of Breakout as some sort of space age mega-game. But then I've always been a sucker for a good game of Breakout and after a couple of tries I soon found myself hooked.
When you read the instructions on the cassette inlay you get a lot of drivel about your Arkanoid mothership being destroyed and your escape vessel, the Vaus, being hurled into the void. It seems that the way to recreate the mothership is to move the Vaus left and right and bounce a ball against the barriers ahead of you. Once you've got through about thirty levels of this you get to meet the dimension changer' who can save you and the mothership from the void.
What a load of rot. As I said, itTs just a version of Breakout (based on the coin-op game by Taito), but instead of the simple version of the game that's been floating around for years this version has a number of added features that put a bit of spark back into an old formula.
The game starts with a simple bat and ball screen, in which the barrier is made up of layers of different coloured bricks running horizontally across the top of the screen. But as you start to hit the barrier capsules are released which, if caught, have differing effects on your ship/bat. Some of them slow the ball down, whilst others arm you with lasers, increase the size of the ship provide an escape onto the next screen and so on. These all add a bit of variety to the action, especially as you can often find yourself darting around the screen trying to decide whether to go for the ball or to risk going after the capsules.
There are also different types of aliens' trapped behind the barriers. These aren't deadly, but once they're set free you can bounce the ball off them and rack up a few points.
On later screens the shape of the barrier becomes more complex and just to make life even more difficult certain types of bricks are harder to destroy than others, while some are completely indestructible so you'll have a hard time controlling the movement of the ball well enough to find the barrier's weak spots.
There are a couple of minor improvements that could be made: the ship responds quite well to keyboard control, though it sometimes gets a little bit jerky, and I wasn't too keen on using it with a joystick. And the collision detection is a bit suspect at times, as the ball can sometimes go right through the bat when it looked certain that you'd hit it solidly.
It's almost embarrassing to admit, with all the mega-state-of-the-art-arcade-adventures going around, that you can get hooked on something as simple and old-fashioned as Breakout, but after all, it's one of those oldies but goodies that can get you completely hooked, and Arkanoids is currently the game that gets played most in our office. It's only the relatively high price that stops it getting an unreserved monster hit. Eight quid is a bit much for any version of Breakout these days, but Arkanoids is about the best version that you're likely to get.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB