Arkanoid DS

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Arkanoid DS review
Professor Layton


A classic remade, former glory regained?

Taito remakes

Released simultaneously with another Taito revival, Space Invaders Extreme, Arkanoid DS is an attempt at trying to revive the old classic arcade version of the game. When Arkanoid was originally released, it was a clone of the Atari classic Breakout. At the time of its release, Arkanoid became quite a hit. Taito ported the game and added touch-screen controls, hoping to bring the old fashioned game back to its former glory on a modern platform. They didn’t quite succeed.

It’s a whole old ballgame

The main objective in Arkanoid DS is to use a paddle to bounce a ball upwards to break blocks at the top of the screen. Eventually the ball will fall back down and it is your task to bounce it back up again. Once the ball hits the paddle, it will make its journey back up the screen to break even more blocks. Occasionally power-ups will fall down after a particular block has been destroyed. To activate the power-up, you will need to catch it before it disappears into the abyss below. The power-ups do all sorts of weird and wonderful things to your paddle like making it magnetic so that the balls stick to it, but they may also increase the number of balls on the screen.

The developers of Arkanoid DS utilized both of the Nintendo DS’ screens to play the game. Sounds like a pretty smart idea but trust me, it is not. Bouncing back, the ball will travel down but… isn’t there a space between the two screens? The answer is yes. As the ball travels down the screens it will have to pass through that space meaning your ball will be gone for a split second. That split second could be the deciding factor in whether or not you manage to rebound your ball back up the screen.

It gets worse. Instead of allowing the entire two screens to be played with the game, Taito thought that a margin would be more appropriate but that also means that roughly half your play area is gone. Additionally, your paddle is positioned very high, giving you less time to respond when your ball is on the way back. A force field at the bottom of the screen bounces your ball back three times should you miss it but after that you are out of luck.

Where’s the paddle?

Arkanoid DS lets you go online with the game and play against other people using either friend codes or simply by playing against a random player. You can go head to head with up to four players. The game keeps track of how many blocks your opponent has destroyed. Negative power-ups are passed onto your opponents and you get to keep the beneficial power-ups.

The graphics may look clean and crisp at first, but after awhile they get really repetitive. Why not have some animations in the background instead of just a still image? Fortunately the audio fares a much better. It is almost as though Taito took the original sound and musical score and modernized them. The best sound effect is a cool retro-sounding click that chimes in whenever the ball hits either a block or the side.

Missing pieces

In Japan Arkanoid DS comes bundled with a Paddle Controller. This spinner peripheral mimics the arcade version’s weighted knob and is used to move the paddle. Taito put considerable effort into making it, but it is not included and you can’t buy it outside of Japan. The only way to get it is by importing one. Without the Paddle Controller, Arkanoid DS is nothing more than a dime-a-dozen arcade game.
Arkanoid DS disappoints in many ways. Even with a retail price of $19.99, the game is just not worth it. If you are looking for a great remake of a classic arcade game, look no further than Space Invaders Extreme. As it stands, Arkanoid DS is a pitiful attempt at reviving a well-loved classic that deserves better than this.


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