Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Arkanoid

Well, it's April A to Z blogging season again, and my lovely wife Sonnia persuaded me to once again participate again this year.  I'm not always inspired to write, which is why my blog has been dormant of late.  Hopefully those of you who kept your subscriptions around for some reason (You like me! You really like me!) and those of you who might be checking my blog out for the first time will be entertained in some fashion.

I'm going to attempt to stick to a theme this year, which (if successful) should become apparent over the next few days of entries.

Arkanoid is a mid-1980's reboot of the classic Atari Breakout series of games from the 1970's (which were in turn a vertical descendant of the old Pong game, but I digress).  I first came upon an Arkanoid machine on a random trip to the yogurt shop adjacent to our usual grocery store.  I quickly became addicted to the game for multiple reasons.  

The nostalgia factor was an obvious draw (even as a youth), as I had played many games of Super Breakout on a friend's Atari 2600 home system.  The gameplay was expanded in multiple directions as well.  Every successive board had its own unique layout, some of which were interesting pictures, and which included bricks which could require multiple shots or in some cases were indestructible.  You now had enemy aliens to contend with which when hit would send the ball careening off in a random direction.  Power up capsules would drop down from some bricks when destroyed, which if caught bestowed bonuses like expanding the paddle, allowing you to catch the ball, making your ball able to go through bricks instead of bouncing off, multiplying your ball into many balls, or even weaponizing your paddle with a laser (pew pew pew!).  

The addition of power up capsules and board layouts added elements of strategy (should you go try to catch that laser capsule coming down or keep your expanded paddle?) to elements of luck (pesky aliens), and the draw of seeing the next board (what's going to be the picture on level 5) resulted in the game turning quickly into a quarter eater.  The game allowed continues, so theoretically if you had unlimited quarters you could finish the game at one sitting.  I never managed more than a game or two in those days.

I ended up liking the game so much that I bought the home computer version when it came out for my Apple IIgs computer (yep, obscure old school).  I spent many hours playing the game (eventually beating it) and constructing custom levels.  

If memory serves, last time I was at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk there was still an Arkanoid machine in the arcade.  Worth a play?  You bet!

Do you have any fond memories of Arkanoid?  I'd love to hear about it in a comment below.

M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-mega ball!!!!!!!


  1. I have played Arkanoid once, I think. It was a Pong upgrade. I liked Pong better though. I guess, that's just me. I don't like complicated games. Bahahaha!

    Sonnia J. Kemmer

  2. i gave never played arkanoid - loved breakout though.

  3. I played Breakout more on the Atari 2600...especially the Super Breakout variation. Cavity mode where there were 2 captive balls that could be freed was the predecessor to the Disperse capsule on Arkanoid.

  4. I had an Arkanoid clone on our first color-screen mac. I know it wasn't Arkanoid because I would remember that name. But the platform and block styles were nearly identical.

    It had some cool upgrades including sticky ball, and guns. Also downgrades like tiny platform. Pretty dang fun game.

  5. Breakout and its derivatives have been cloned in a metric ton of forms for a plethora of platforms. The simplistic game play seems to maintain its appeal over the years, maybe because it subconsciously reminds the player of tossing/hitting a ball against a wall when they were a kid? I've even seen Strip Breakout variants where a picture of some sort is gradually revealed as the bricks are hit and disappear. It takes all kinds ;-)

  6. There's a Breakout clone that came out about 4 years ago called "Shatter" that has a few additions to the recipe. With each "break" of a block, the Paddle can pull/absorb the debris (which can also contain power-ups), but the pull also affects the ball. Additionally, you can also push the debris away and that can also effect the flight of the ball. At the end of each level (after about 9 stages) there's a boss fight where you, typically, have to bounce the ball at the enemy while avoiding harmful projectiles.

    There's obviously more to this game that what I said, but I hope I got the point across.