Extropia’s Retro-Gaming: ‘Arkanoid’

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Extropia’s Retro-Gaming: ‘Arkanoid’.

In the beginnning, there was ‘Pong’ (actually, ‘Space War’ came first but never mind). Then somebody added a multicoloured wall that you had to break down brick by brick by ricocheting a ball off it, and Breakout was born. But where could the bat and ball game go from there?

Well, in 1987 the games publisher Taito provided an answer in the form of ‘Arkanoid’. ‘Arkanoid’ was the name of a space ship that is mentioned in the introduction to this game. According to that intro, “The era and time of this story is unknown. After the mothership Arkanoid was destroyed, a spacecraft, ‘Vaus’, was scrambled away from it, but only to be trapped in space by someone”.

That someone is ‘Doh’, and we’ll get to him later. Anyone who played breakout would have instantly known what to do in Arkanoid, since the first level was pretty much a clone of that game, only with slightly better graphics. The aim was very simple. You have a bat which you can move sideways from right to left by turning a knob on the arcade cabinet. You have to stop a ball from falling off the bottom of the screen by placing the bat in its path, and try to take out all the bricks.

So far, so Breakout. But Arkanoid did add some new editions. For starters, there were silver and gold bricks. The former required several hits before they disappeared, while the gold bricks were indestructible. This required some tactical use of rebounds in order to be able to reach certain bricks.


There were also power ups in the form of pills of various colours. Orange slowed the ball down, giving you more time to manoeuvre the bat into position, the red pill granted the ability to fire laser beams at the bricks, the green pill let you catch the ball and fire it wherever you chose, the pink allowed you to advance a level, the blue pill made your bat longer, the grey granted you an extra life and the grey pill marked D split the ball into three particles, allowing for additional damage so long as you could keep all three balls in play.

I said we’d mention Doh again, and he comes into play at the end of the game’s main levels as a sort of end of level boss. You were required to hit Doh sixteen times with a ball, all while avoiding Doh’s attacks. Should you lose a life, you had to hit Doh another sixteen times before he was defeated.

This game had a very simple premise that was well executed. It could not claim to have been the most original concept ever. As I said, this is just a breakout clone with some added bells and whistles. But it did provide a very good version of the bat and ball game, and was popular enough to have been converted to just about every platform in existence, as well as spawning a sequel called Revenge of Doh.

Thanks to Taito for the images.

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Thanks for this post! I haven't thought about this game in years, but now I remember that I was once quite good at it. I enjoyed the power up pills which unlocked the things you mentioned. Good times! :)

Such an interesting game, it's because it has spacecrafts, spaceships, and others. Must be fun and you have to play with spaceships and you will learn how to drive an aircraft like that. And you will get to ride in the outer space and it's really a cool and nice environment guys...