Review: Arkanoid DS

Ark_US_front.jpg Side by side with Space Invaders Extreme, Taito and Square Enix have launched Arkanoid DS, a similarly-themed remix of the classic, 22-year-old, block-breaking puzzle game decked out with colorful new graphics, a thumping soundtrack, plenty of modes and a host of unlockable background graphics, borders, paddle designs and other items to customize the look and sound of the game to your tastes.

Compared to all the flashy new stuff Taito crammed into Space Invaders Extreme, though, Arkanoid DS is a little tamer. There really aren’t any crazy new rules to contend with — this is very much traditional Arkanoid gameplay, only adapted to take advantage of the touch screen and dual display.

Located on the top screen, is an arrangement of different colored blocks and on the bottom screen is a paddle you slide back and forth using either the D-pad or stylus (Japan got a sweet paddle controller packed in with the game, but sadly it didn’t make the transition overseas). The objective is easy: use the paddle to bounce a ball into the blocks to break them. Once all blocks have been cleared from the board, you win. If you let the ball slip by your paddle on the way down, you lose. Pure, simple arcade fun — that’s what it is.

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In terms of modes, Arkanoid DS has a lot to offer. Clear Game is the main solo mode, consisting of a total of 35 stages at a time, with branching paths that can be taken upon repeated play to unlock a total of 140 stages. Those 140 stages can then be played individually in Quest Game, a mode that tasks you with completing quick-fire challenges usually of the “break all blocks of color X within the given time limit” variety. Rounding out the single-player modes is Vs COM, a head-to-head mode against a computer opponent.

Once you get tired of playing against the AI, you can then hop into the game’s excellent multiplayer modes. Arkanoid DS supports local (with game sharing) and online 2-4 player competition in two match types: Bust All (first player to clear all blocks wins) and Bust Color (first player to clear all blocks of a certain color wins). In a week’s worth of daily play, I’ve yet to be able to find anyone to play four-player matches with (it seems people only want to play two players) so unfortunately I can’t speak on how it performs, but the two-player action is fantastic, I can tell you that. The online performance is much, much smoother and more consistent than the online offering in the DS Space Invaders Extreme, and overall it’s exceptionally fun to take on other live opponents.

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At times, completing a stage or coming out victorious in a multiplayer match can hinge a little too much on catching a lucky bounce or having the right power-up drop at just the right moment, and that’s basically my lone complaint. Other than that, Arkanoid DS is simple, addictive fun that’s perfect for portable play in every way. Pick up a copy alongside Space Invaders Extreme, and you’ll be in Taito arcade game heaven!

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Pros:
+ Fantastic multiplayer support
+ Simple, addictive gameplay with fluid stylus paddle controls
+ Plenty of stages, modes and unlockable customization options to keep you busy
+ Like Space Invaders Extreme, it’s only $20

Cons:
– Sometimes luck has too much influence over winning and losing
– Square Enix didn’t include the cool pack-in paddle controller that Japanese gamers got

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Taito
Release Date: 6/17/08
Genre: Arcade Puzzle
Players: 1-4, local and online multiplayer
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!