I guarantee you’ve already played Arkanoid, most likely on your cell phone in someplace boring, possibly in class on your snappy Texas Instruments graphics calculator, but almost certainly somewhere. Arkanoid is an exact clone of Atari’s Breakout, made back in the 80s before they invented “copyright infringement.”

In case you know it by another name, Breakout/Arkanoid is the great physics demonstration where you control a paddle and a ball, as in Pong, but use the paddle to keep the ball afloat, and the ball to smash a wall of multicolored bricks. The level ends when all bricks have met a fitting end, or you clumsily allow three of the balls to fall past the paddle. As in true arcade style, the game continues forever until you beat the high score and/or give up.

In order to even play Arkanoid, you need its unique, and quite ugly, little gray Vaus controller. A simple black dial translates left and right turns into the appropriate slides in that direction. It allows for a bit more precision than the standard joypad would, but also drove up the price quite a bit for the only game I’m aware of that would support it. The alternative is an emulator or online replication that lets you use the mouse in place of the controller with equal precision.

Arkanoid’s graphics are nice, considering you’re looking at rectangles and a ball, but are brightly and vibrantly multicolored. Most of these are just for show, but the occasional silver and gold blocks either take more hits to destroy, or can’t be destroyed at all, respectively. Arkanoid also features powerups that drop down randomly when you take out blocks. Only one powerup can be active at a time, and most automatically run out after short time, but all are helpful in some way. They include ones that expand the width of your paddle, slow the game down, put out three active balls instead of just one, or give the paddle guns that it can shoot to destroy blocks, while still keeping the ball in play. The sound is also limited, but fitting, with generally upbeat tunes that play when you beat a level, and a repetitive, but appropriate, “pinging” noise when the ball bounces off something.

The game is pretty solid, but how long you will want to play is entirely up to your own patience. Arkanoid is certainly simple, but can be addictive for some, in the same way that Tetris can be played for hours on end despite never really accomplishing anything. If you enjoy Breakout, and are looking for a decent version to play with some enhancements from the original formula, this is a good choice. If you’re just looking for NES games, this isn’t a particularly flashy or exclusive choice. And if you love plot games and despise doing the same thing over and over for no real reason at all, it won’t take long here for you to get Ark-annoyed.

Ha ha, you just get nothin’ but clever at this site.


The Good

Nice Breakout clone. Simplistic, but can be endlessly entertaining.


The Bad

Others will find the game endlessly boring, just depends on your own tastes.


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