Arkanoid is Imagine's umpteenth licence tie-in.
So far - as licences go - the arcade conversions have been infinitely superior to the TV/film links and this fits the trend.
Arkanoid comes from the Taito arcade machine and is completely wonderful.
Old timers, having seen the screenshots, will be scoffing loudly, claiming that it's exactly the same a Breakout. And this is, in fact, not all that far from the truth. Breakout was invented years ago and it featured a bat and a ball and a wall. The object was to keep bouncing the ball (a white blob) off the wall at the top of the screen and not let it slip past you on the re-bound.
Now Ocean's game is at least a couple of generations down the line. It's still got the bat and the ball (still a white blob) and a wall of some sort but there are so many little twiddles and added bits* accusations of unoriginality are really a bit pointless.
The plot tells of how your mothership, Arkanoid was destroyed, leaving only a shuttle craft, Vaus. In order for things to be well with the universe, you must destroy 32 levels of walls before reaching the Dimension Changer which will allow you to reverse time and bring back Arkanoid. OK, the plot stinks.
Hit Fire and you're off. You're the blocky thing at the bottom of the screen. The ball sits on the top of your craft and after a couple of seconds, it'll fly up toward the top of the screen. It won't get particularly far before slapping into a large coloured square and being bounced back down again.
All pretty familiar so far.
A few bounces on and that's all changed. A kind of Hedex tablet with a letter on will drift down the screen. Now, each tablet does different things for you. For example, if you guide Vaus into one with the letter S on, the ball will slow down. One with a C on it gives your ship a kind of sticky property: the ball will stop when you touch it, and you can then move to whichever position you like before launching it again.
Other letters make your ship wider (thus making it easier to hit the ball), give you extra lifes, move you to the next level or break the ball into three parts.
This last offers you a very strange kind of bonus situation where you have to juggle three balls instead of one. The final tablet arms your ship with lasers which can blast away walls and aliens.
Oh, I hadn't mentioned the aliens before, had I? They appear at the top of the screen and work their way down. The higher the level, the more numerous and infuriating they are. You can destroy them by crashing the ball into them, but this deflects its flightpath.
That's the game, but it's all wrapped up in slick graphics and super-smooth movement.
Despite it's relatively primitive roots. Arkanoid is a quite extraordinarily playable game.
Author: Mike Lamb
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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