I should start by declaring that I always have loved - and always will love - Breakout. I know it's a very old and unoriginal game but it is the classic arcade game - totally abstract in concept and demanding pure reaction gameplay. It's therapy for a jaded mind, the sort of game you sit down to play and six hours later look at the clock and wonder where the time went - total addiction.
Arkanoid is better than Krakout because its graphics and presentation are slicker, its screens better designed and more varied. However, they both retain the essential addictive elements of Breakout that will keep you playing constantly.
For those too new to computing to remember Breakout, this is the basis of the game: You control a bat at the bottom of the screen which can move left and right. Above it in the field of play are lots and lots of bricks. A ball bounces around the screen, and with it you have to destroy all the bricks. You use the bat to keep the ball in play - you must stop it escaping through the one open side of the playing area. You have only a limited number of balls.
Naturally there are lots of enhancements to the original game but the basic concept and gameplay are the same. There are 32 screens, each with a different layout of bricks. On all the screens three other objects will appear from the top of the screen and although they can't harm the bat or ball they can deflect the ball and make it extremely difficult to retrieve.
The bricks come in several varieties. Most are destroyed by one hit of the ball, some require two hits, and others are completely indestructible. To progress to the next screen all except the indestructible bricks have to be eliminated. The bricks and backgrounds are colourful - a little garish on some screens, but mostly very attractive.
The major enhancement is the introduction of capsules: they are released and fall down the screen every so often when a brick is destroyed. There are seven different types of capsule, with different effects when caught by the bat.
Three of the capsules are particularly useful, giving an extra life, an exit to the next level or turning the bat into a laser. The exit allows you to move to the next level at any time, as long as you don't die. The laser can be used for blasting away at visible bricks, but on levels where there are a lot of bricks hidden by indestructible bricks this is of little use.
The other four capsules slow down the ball, allow you to catch the ball on the bat, lengthen the bat and break the ball into three. This last one is a lot of fun because the three balls travel at different speeds: trying to keep up with all of them is very hectic indeed.
Capsules arrive regularly, but which one you get is fairly random. You can't always manage to collect them either, because the ball may have to be returned at the same time as a capsule is passing by elsewhere on the screen. Most capsules will cancel out the effect of the previous capsule, so if you've got the power you want, don't bother collecting any others.
The 32 levels are tough to get through. Some nasty ones pop up very early on levels three and five. Just keep your fingers crossed for an exit, glue or divide capsule on level three, and a laser on five.
I'm ashamed to say I found it very difficult to stop playing the game - it is enormously addictive. It may not be original, but I still think Breakout games are brilliant.
Breakout clones are not few and far between: this one tops the lot. The original theme - bounce a ball against a bat to bash the bricks - is still there, but other touches have been added. By picking up certain items your bat will elongate, turn into a laser or become very sticky. Colourful and very playable.
Green Screen View
Bricks come in various colours and have different properties - some take two hits to destroy while others are indestructible. It is thus very difficult to distinguish between brick types in green.
First Day Target Score
P. Lots of bright colours and fancy backgrounds.
P. Excellent design of all screens.
P. Good sound-effects.
Grab Factor 92%
P. Incredibly addictive reaction gameplay.
P. Very easy to play: who needs instructions?
Staying Power 86%
P. 32 screens that get extremely tough.
N. Annoyingly slow start-up routine.
P. All the addiction of Breakout with new features.
N. Not good if you're looking for originality.