Read the review here.
“Actually, to the more imaginative players out there, it may even appear as a little wizard, with a robe and hat.”
– excerpt from the full review, which can be read here.
This may sound strange, but: In my opinion, Arkanoid has elements within that showcase both an example of a game that has aged well and a game that has not aged well.
Obviously I must learn toward the former, since I gave it four stars. I think Arkanoid is a great game, and although I believe I overuse the word “distinctive” and intentionally try to avoid it nowadays, it fits here perfectly. It may not have been the only ball-and-paddle title on the NES console, but it was quality, and it was definitely the best when played with the Vaus controller, allowing analog precision in paddle movement. The game has an elegant simplicity to it that, in some ways, could never be improved by glitzier graphics or high-fidelity sound; like chess, the basic elements can be dressed up, but the essential core remains quite fine.
On the other hand, also in my opinion as always, some of the level designs seem a little cheap and chintzy now. Maybe that speaks to some oddly jaded part of me, because while I like the clever homages such as the Space Invaders stage, a true Taito icon, other parts just feel cheap, or even rushed. Out of all the images possible, an ice cream cone? And levels where there really is just one place to go to begin with, considering all the invincible blocks bordering that single vulnerable spot?
See, while Arkanoid is great as a puzzle game, there is one very, very important difference between it and Tetris: Tetris is different every time. Each block is randomly generated, and the player himself defines the appearance of the stage as blocks fall. Really, even after just three or four tetrads, there are already thousands of thousands of possible boards played, and these beginnings will change. As those blocks progress, the player cannot be fully aware of the difficulties to come, the resulting gaps, the pieces waiting two or three turns away.
But, in Arkanoid, no matter how many years we wait, it will always have those same stages, over and over, again and again. It has a limit. It has an end. It has a set-in-stone finite nature. Granted, that is perfectly okay for many games, and the play of the paddle changes each time; but, still, those static formations remain.
Read The Full Review For: What makes Arkanoid a one-of-a-kind title, the mythology behind the game, and its place in gaming history. Full disclosure: I originally wrote the review for Retrocade Magazine, a great publication packed with old-school information that I would recommend.
NES Gameplay Tips For Arkanoid: Get your hands on a Vaus controller. Abuse power-ups. Conquer Doh. Have fun.