Arkanoid is an arcade video game developed and released by Taito in 1986. The game is based on the popular 1976 arcade release created by Atari called Breakout and it consists of bouncing ball between a player-controlled platform on the bottom of the screen and a stacks of blocks. As the ball bounces on the block, they begin to break, granting the player points based on the color of said blocks. The objective is to break every single block on each level in order to advance to the next.
Arkanoid featured amazing colorful graphics and introduced several new elements to the “ball n’ paddle” game formula which were popular at the time. Specifically, the most important feature which provided an element of strategy were the powerups which were dropped from certain bricks upon being destroyed, and grant benefits to the player if he catches them with their paddle.
Due to the game’s popularity when it first came out, 4 versions of it were eventually released: Arkanoid, Tournament Arkanoid, and Revenge of Doh (Arkanoid II), all of which were released between 1986 and 1987, and Arkanoid Returns which was released in 1997.
This week on Getting Good, we’ll be addressing the basics of Arkanoid and will be providing several tips to maximize your score and set the new high record at the local arcade.
Arkanoid is played entirely by controlling the paddle at the bottom (called ‘Vaus’). The player can move it right or left by rotating the control disc either clockwise or counterclockwise in the arcade version. The control scheme also features fire buttons which allow the Vaus to perform certain actions when the appropriate power ups have been unlocked. For instance, if the laser upgrade has been acquired, the fire buttons will be used to fire said projectiles. On the other hand, if the catch upgrade is acquired, the fire button will be used to release the ball.
The direction the ball will take after bouncing on the Vaus is determined by the exact place where it struck it; if it bounces off the edges of the ship, the ball will go careening towards the bricks at a very shallow angle. Meanwhile, if the ball bounces off the very center of the Vaus, it will go at a sharp angle. The red bands on each side of the ships make the ball bounce off at a 45° angle. Knowing which place the ball will bounce off to is very important for keeping it in play, correctly direct it towards the bricks, and maximizing your score.
As the game progresses, the player is presented with different types of bricks, all of which grant the player different amount of points, depending on their color. In the same manner, the bricks which give the most amount of points will also take more hits to break, so keep this in mind when you’re aiming to quickly clear a stage, as breaking the fragile bricks may be a better strategy over attacking the hardy bricks first.
When it comes to types of bricks, they are grouped mainly in 3 categories:
- Color Bricks: The most common type in the whole game, taking only one hit to destroy and granting a different amount of points according to their color. The color bricks are arranged, according to the amount of points the give, in the following manner:
- Silver Bricks: These take more than 1 hit to destroy. At the moment of their first appearance, they take only 2 hits, but the amount required to destroy them increases by 1 every 8 levels. Silver bricks also grant a ton of points: 50 times the stage number. Silver bricks on stage 32 (the one prior to the boss stage) grant the player a whopping 1,600 points each.
- Golden Bricks: These are meant to be obstacles as they cannot be destroyed by any means. Furthermore, they don’t count towards the bricks the player needs to destroy to progress towards the next stage.
When the player breaks bricks, there’s a chance that a powerup (in the form a capsule with a letter on it) will drop. The effect of said powerup is determined by its color and letter, and can grant the player one of the following:
- Red L: Transforms the Vaus into laser mode, which allows the player to fire projectiles using the laser buttons. Said lasers can be used to destroy bricks, even the silver ones.
- Blue E: Simply put, this powerup extends the width of the Vaus.
- Green C: Grants the Vaus the ability to catch balls. Instead of bouncing off its hull, the ball will stick to the ship, and can be released by pressing the fire button, or automatically after a certain amount of time has passed.
- Orange S: Decreases the speed at which the ball moves across the field. Although multiple instances of this powerup can stack, the ball will progressively regain its speed as it bounces back and forth between the ship and the bricks.
- Violet B: Upon collecting this capsule, a “break out” exit will be created on the right side of the stage. If the player manages to aim the ball towards this new portal, he will receive 10,000 bonus points and automatically progress towards the next stage.
- Cyan D: Upon collecting the powerup, the ball currently in play will divide into 3 instances of itself, all of which may be kept in play simultaneously if the player is skilled enough. The current life will not expire until all 3 balls are lost under the Vaus.
- Silver P: Grants the player an extra life upon receiving the powerup.
Arkanoid is, by far, one the most demanding games of the later 80’s in terms of player skill. Other classics like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were definitely challenging in their own right, but the difficulty of these games is reduced considerably when you know what to expect and which movement patterns are the optimal for clearing each stage. Arkanoid, on the other hand, plays differently each time and depends solely on player skill in order to adapt and complete the game in a timely manner.
In this sense, the best way to improve your skill at Arkanoid is by simply playing the game, growing familiar with how the ball works, and keeping at it until you feel comfortable enough with the controls and are able to easily aim the ball towards the openings at all times.
That being said a good strategy to adopt is focusing on one block at a time so you can create an opening towards the top of the stage. Once the ball is above the bricks, it’ll likely bounce back and forth between the roof and the brick wall, destroying everything in its path. Be careful with this strategy, though, as the ball will likely gather much momentum in its path of destruction and you’ll have to anticipate it as it comes back down towards the Vaus. Before attempting this, it pays to have an Enlarge powerup, as it will allow you to better catch the ball once it finally comes back down.
Arkanoid is one of those games that requires constant practice in order to master, unlike others where knowledge of the mechanics are paramount to excelling at them. Arkanoid is all about adapting to the situation and developing the skills required to aim the ball properly. If you can get that down, then odds are that you’ll do great at the game.
That being said, here at PrimeTime amusements we’re always at the forefront when it comes to arcade game sales and rentals. If you’re looking for a machine in particular for your game room, or simply need guidance to get started, feel free to contact us at 1.800.550.0090, or pay us a visit at 5300 Powerline Rd, Suite 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33309