If you were expecting the same stroke of brilliance that was Taito’s remake of Space Invaders, only applied to the original Break Out clone, you will be a bit disappointed. By introducing multi-directional movement, power-ups, and special moves into the fight against the squiddies, Infinity Gene gave the iPhone something you can’t really get anywhere else. Arkanoid feels like its same old self by comparison.
Of course, this means that for purists, it’s not so bad. “Legendary boss battles?” Check. Bouncing balls off your VAUS paddle to bust up multi-colored bricks? Check. There may be over a hundred stages, but keep in mind that it’s not so far into those hundred stages that you start encountering gold bricks that don’t ever break. This is about the point where Arkanoid has always ceased to be fun for us (the point where taking ten minutes to beat a level because you are failing to hit one little normal block hiding behind an impenetrable shield begins to feel like a waste of time) and it was no different this time.
In a casual game to whip out for a minute or two on the bus, there needs to be a hook that snags you, but Arkanoid starts out with an unskippable story. Also, make sure to always select Continue if you die. The game may auto-save when you just hit the home button to exit willy-nilly, but it won’t save if you mistakenly choose to attempt a more responsible route of formally exiting your session.
The powerups that occasionally drop are those we have grown fond of over many iterations: a longer VAUS, a shorter VAUS for extra points, the sticky paddle, etc. The fact that the L(aser) is still the best one just tells us that we’d rather be playing a shooter.
Who makes those? Who could possibly have made a good shooter for the iPhone? Could Taito have done such a thing? We’d much rather play Infinity Gene again, like three times.
One thing they do deserve props on, though, is that moving the VAUS does not cover up the screen. Although for some reason everyone we know seems to assume the game will control via tilt (which does not appear to be an option), you slide your ship from side to side with a finger on a portion of the screen below where the action is actually taking place. Much like Infinity Gene’s controls, you will be tempted to touch your “character” directly to move it, but it’s never necessary, leaving you with a nice clean view of your ricochets.
Shoot it in the eye with an arrow! Wait, that’s Zelda.
If you feel under-challenged, you are free to inflict Arkanoid-flavored Pong battles on your friends. We found it possible, also, to compete against yourself with a thumb on each end of the iPhone, holding it horizontally so the face-off works.
The other near-mandatory custom-awesome that needs to occur is the insertion of your own soundtrack. It’s one thing to play Arkanoid with whatever tunes Taito can provide, but it is quite another to play while pretending that Anamanaguchi did the soundtrack, or Bach, for that matter. Unfortunately, you need to choose your songs wisely because they do just loop forever like a regular game song would. Don’t force hatred on your favorite jam just because you get stuck on a level with too many gold bricks!
On the whole, if you’re willing to overlook the fact that you’ve probably played this game 16 times before, Arkanoid is a decent deal at $4.99. Not as sweet a deal as another recent Taito game used to be (ahem), but then the price of that gem rose (although it’s still a steal at just over six). In a closing poseur marketing guru gesture, we suppose what we would advise is to await the sale that must be coming, because we can’t really see shelling out for Arkanoid at the moment.