Hmm. Haven't I seen something like this before? What we have here is what might be politely termed an alternative reading of Arkanoid, the updated Breakout game that Ocean brought to your Speccy a couple of months back. And why not, you may ask? It's a good idea, so why not let everyone have a go at it? It worked well with Gauntlet - look how many excellent games that little number spawned.
In reworking Arkanoid, the Gremlin team have obviously tried hard not to duplicate it completely. The game is played, for instance, from left to right (or vice versa), not up and down. You have a choice of bat types and speeds and, best of all, ball speeds, which makes it much easier to get going. There are more capsule bonuses, including a shield that protects your rear, and you have to hit them twice to pick them up, rather than catching them as they fall down the screen. The aliens are nastier and can do all sorts of unpleasant things, like freezing your bat and eating your ball (oo-er!) There are more screens too - 100, compared to Arkanoid's 31. But the basic game's the same.
And, more importantly, it's not as good. Arkanoid's key is its simplicity - the format's so clever it doesn't need messing about with. Krakout, on the other hand, is horribly fiddly, what with all its thousands of options and everything else cluttering up the screen. And the block layouts lust aren't as fiendishly addictive. My main criticism, though, must be reserved for the side-to-side gameplay, which alters the game's balance and seems to have overstrained Gremlin's graphical capabilities. If Krakout were the only game of this type on the market, I'm sure the flags and bunting would now be out. But it's second and very much second best, and if you're going to beg, borrow or blag one of the Breakout lookalikes, you'd be wiser to go for Arkanoid.
Now, this is a good deal better. When this originally came out. I gave it what might be described as a less than generous review, mainly because at the time I was completely obsessed with Arkanoid, which with its sequel remains undoubtedly the best of these Breakout variants. Krakout, which was Gremlin's entry, turns everything 90 degrees so you're moving your bat from top to bottom and stopping the ball from leaving the screen on the right. It's got all the usual extras, although in this case you don't collect the capsules as they fly towards you. but simply have to hit the same square again. The graphics are a little basic, but it's eminently playable, and if you want some more bricks to batter, you could do far worse (Traz perchance?). The uncommitted, though, should spend the extra and buy Arkanoid.
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