Amstrad Action1st May 1988
Published in Amstrad Action #32
Arkanoid: Revenge Of Doh
"Who is this Doh character", you're asking yourself? Apparently he's the poor unfortunate that got batted and bounced into submission in the original game. It's still basically a breakout clone, but even more features have been added.
In the "Arkanoid Space Wars" you controlled the Vaus spacecraft in an attempt to break down walls. 40,000 years have passed and now a huge alien spaceship has entered the universe. On-board is the evil Doh, thought destroyed in the Arkanoid Space Wars. Vaus II is launched to counter the alien threat.
The playing area shows your bat at the bottom of the screen and the wall that must be destroyed above you. Your number of lives and score are also shown on-screen. The walls are made up of several types of blocks: normal, multiple hit, regenerating, moving and indestructible. Normal blocks only take one hit to make them disappear and the multiple hit blocks take several before they're destroyed.
Regenerating blocks are much more troublesome because they take several hits before they vanish and then they re-appear a few seconds later. Indestructible blocks are never destroyed; well, almost never - more of that later.
When the blocks are destroyed, a capsule frequently appears and can be collected by catching it with the bat. There are all the old capsules from Arkanoid and some new ones too. Written on the side of each capsule is a letter that tells you what it does. B, C, D, E, G, L, M, N, P, R, S and T are the capsule types. The B capsule allows the bat to break through to the next level without clearing away all of the blocks. C sticks the ball to the bat instead of bouncing it off and D disrupts the ball into five parts that makes clearing blocks away easier and faster.
The bat can be expanded to double its width by collecting the E capsule and the G capsule creates a ghost image of the bat that trails behind you deflecting the balls as if it was a normal bat. The bat can be armed with a laser by collecting the L capsule and you can then blast away at the blocks. Another really useful capsule is the N which splits the ball into three parts in a similar way to the D capsule. The difference is that when you miss a ball with the bat it re-appears again, unless you miss all three simultaneously. in which case a life is lost. Bonus lives are given if you collect the P capsule and the ball is slowed down if you collect the S. T splits the bat into two, but there's a hole in the middle of the two that the ball can slip through if you're not careful.
The M capsule makes the ball pass through the blocks, destroying them as it goes without being deflected in any way. This even destroys the otherwise indestructible blocks but still bounces off aliens. The most useless capsule is the R because it shrinks the bat and makes it much more difficult to hit the ball. Finally there's the special capsule that does one of two things: give you an auto firing laser bat or splits the ball into three and makes them behave as a combination of the N and M capsules - devastating.
There are loads of screens to go through and some of them are incredibly difficult. In the original Arkanoid you move to the next screen when the one that you're on is completed, but in this sequel you get a choice. Two doorways open and you choose left or right; the choice affects which screen you go to next. The final screen in the original Arkanoid had an alien that takes lots of hits before he's destroyed. An alien appears on screen 17 in the sequel but who knows what lies on the final screen? Not me, that's for sure.
Sound is a little better in this than in Arkanoid with nicer tunes and effects. The graphics are simple and colourful with no problems identifying capsules.
The addictiveness of Arkanoid is still present and the extra features that have been added make the game more fun. Control of the bat is a little tricky at times because the ball often moves too fast for the bat to reach it. Collision detection is poor and sometimes the ball appears to travel straight through the bat.
There are some really irritating bugs in the game that get it stuck in a loop. The ball sometimes gets trapped between indestructible blocks and, since there's no way to quit the screen or even the game, you can end up having to re-load the game! Getting to a screen well into the game and this happening is very frustrating. Sometimes a mutant block appears that you have to destroy, but for some reason it can't be destroyed and again you have no choice other than to lose all your lives.
It's a very addictive and frustrating game that is unfortunately occasionally frustrating for the wrong reasons. If you loved the original you'll go wild over this.
There is something about this type of game that will keep me glued to the computer. No matter how many versions of the Breakout classic appear; each has a novel twist; something to keep me hooked. This is especially true of Arkanoid II. Bats and balls with varying properties, large number of screens, different paths to the nefarious Doh and - most importantly of all - addictiveness. Just one complaint: the ball occasionally gets stuck, which ruins an otherwise perfect game.
First Day Target Score
Green Screen View
The capsules are a little tricky to identify in green, but otherwise everything is easy to see.
P. Colour's used very well.
N. Just simple blocks and balls.
P. Nice tunes.
N. Uninspiring spot effects.
Grab Factor 87%
P. Instantly addictive.
N. Ok, so there's not much to think about.
Staying Power 76%
P. Lots of screens to play through.
N. If the ball gets trapped it's very annoying.
P. An even better game than Arkanoid.
N. Irritating bugs spoil it a little.