Harry Milonas
21 Sep, 2008

Arkanoid DS Review

DS Review | DOHn't bother.
In much the same manner the original 1986 Arkanoid arcade game was a flattering riff on Atari's Breakout, so too is the DS edition of Taito's block-busting replica a shadow of its Space Invaders-flavoured 'anniversary edition' brethren. A pale shadow at that. While this year's Space Invaders Extreme justified its existence with an all-round presentational gloss and gameplay sheen – all the while staying more or less true to its design origins – Arkanoid DS manages to take away more than it brings to the franchise’s forlorn fans and newcomers alike.

Considering Arkanoid can very well develop into a fast-paced arcade game, centred on making precise movements in the heat of the high levels, the total lack of built-in refined and accurate controls in this DS iteration is downright perplexing on Taito's part. Controlling the horizontal movements of a paddle-like ship on the bottom DS screen – with either the directional pad or (the not at all recommended) stylus – the player's objective is to bounce a ball off their vessel and aim straight and true, knocking out the carefully-positioned blocks on the top DS screen in a wholly vertical and narrow playing field. At least, that would be the hope.


It could be argued that the sole reason Arkanoid DS fails in the interface department is the complete regional unavailability of the much-praised paddle controller peripheral, otherwise bundled with the Japanese release of the game. And you'd be right, to a degree. Tests with an imported paddle controller bring with them not only a sense of elegance to paddle movements, but also nostalgia for the original arcade controls for Arkanoid – a compliment a remake of this kind should certainly have endeavoured to ensure for a local release. That said, the perceived reliance on an external peripheral on the part of Taito's developers is not the only harsh blow for the Western/non-importing gamer.

The ball play design is perhaps the other largest fault against Arkanoid DS, primarily due to the curious change in the series' block design, combined with the blind flight gap between the top and bottom DS screens. Where previous entries in the franchise contained spacious rectangular tiles, the DS edition instead believes they're hipper if they're square. What this evenly-cornered choice in obstacle layout means are all-too-often cases of the ball frustratingly bouncing in the same angles and spaces repeatedly. This, coupled with the near-sighted guessing game that can become the middle of the DS playing field questions the Arkanoid DS' developers understanding of the franchise to no end.

The most glaring omission, in terms of 'true-to-form' value for Arkanoid DS is the absence of the series iconic enemy and bosses. Yes, not even the 'dimension controlling fort' DOH itself bothers to pop its Moai-like features into Arkanoid DS proceedings. Nevertheless, Taito has included a story of sorts to go with the single-player stage-clearing modes, modes that are otherwise repetitive endeavours due to the aforementioned clumsy design of the game. While unlockable customisation options and backgrounds attempt to give reason for prolonged play, it's unfortunate that the relatively worthwhile content requires near completion of the game's mundane modes.

For the sake of players that grow tired of playing with their paddle and balls by themselves, Taito was forward-thinking enough to include multiplayer and online ranking capabilities. With both Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and single-card local support, the options are surprisingly robust. Nevertheless, it remains near impossible to find and start an online match without prior outside arrangement with a friend and/or foe.


Practically the only real noteworthy remade sheen to be found within Arkanoid DS is the attention heaped upon its audio design. Typical of Taito's music department, the tunes on any given level and screen are frighteningly catchy. Taito's attention to aural detail also extends to the nostalgic sound effects the ball and power ups make. Even the Arkanoid franchise's signature jingle before a level starts returns.

It's a shame that signature care does not extend its gratitude to the rest of the game. In the end however, Arkanoid DS sits at strange junction tilted more toward 'de-evolution' than a well and proper celebration of the franchise. With over two decades since the first Arkanoid, along with a selection of entertaining upgrades and sequels since, the DS iteration of Arkanoid is a frustratingly primitive artefact today best left to the mobile phones and Flash casual games.
The Score
Arkanoid bounces back on DS, yet misses the point completely. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
5 years ago
Unless it somes with a packaged analogue 360 degree device...well it fails in my eyes.
Original arkanoid with the peripheral it was meant to be played with = win.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  3/7/2008 (Tentative)
  UBI Soft
Year Made:

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