Arkanoid (Imagine) Review | ZX Computing - Everygamegoing

ZX Computing

By Imagine
Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #37

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, beind 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, it's 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 get 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 Arkanoid 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 Arkanoid is about the best version that you're likely to get.