Take a classic video game, add a respected studio, a dash of modernism and a pinch of Battle Royale. Shake everything to mix each ingredient and discover the new edition of Arkanoid, the famous brick breaker from 1986! Open your history books, we are back in the footsteps of the great epic of arcade games!
To understand where Arkanoid comes from, you have to look at another game: Breakout. In the early 1970s, when everything was still to be invented, the Atari company reversed everything in its path with Pong, a tennis “simulation”. The reception from the public is so dazzling that bar owners call the company explaining that the terminal is no longer working. In reality, the coin mechanism is blocked by the innumerable coins which accumulate in the compartment provided for this purpose. On its way, Atari, through the voice of its founder Nolan Bushnell, asks two of its engineers to develop a new concept. The duo, made up of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the future founders of Apple, then imagined a PONG that could be played alone, following the conceptualization of Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow. This variation gives rise to Breakout, a formidable title based on a very simple idea: thanks to a racket placed at the bottom of the screen, the player propels a ball to break bricks positioned in height. When the ball hits a brick, it disappears, but the ball continues on its way. It is then necessary to manage the rebounds and the displacements of the projectile by making it bounce, you will have understood it, on the racket. Otherwise, the ball falls into the void and the player loses a credit. The game is a success, but Steve Wozniak will admit, years later, that his friend Steve Jobs tricked him by giving him 375 dollars when the contract signed by Jobs was, without his knowing it, 5 000 dollars. Be that as it may, it was Breakout that gave Arkanoid acclaim ten years later.
Of men and bricks
In the mid-1980s, Taito’s management decided to create a brick-buster and looked for a way to make the project a success. To obtain the best game there is, it sets up a competition between employees with, as a bonus, a nice bonus and the marketing of the game. The duo which then stands out is made up of Akira Fujita and Hiroshi Tsujino. While taking up the concept of Breakout, the latter develop a universe (the racket is replaced by a paddle called Vaus) and integrate a series of bonuses to help the player. During the game, by breaking certain bricks, items fall down the screen and the user can use different effects: enlargement of the paddle, additional balls, ball that sticks to the paddle and even activation of shots lasers! But arcade terminal obliges, Taito is also there to pocket a maximum of coins and the challenge is hardened by the presence of more resistant or even downright indestructible bricks. To carry out this project, the Japanese designers are inspired by the film Tron for the futuristic aesthetics and push the technical vice to create 3D models converted into 2D elements. Upon release, Arkanoid was such a phenomenon that it became the highest-grossing game of 1987 – and the highest-grossing conversion in the United States. In short, a commercial card that has become a classic.
Reimagining a 35-year-old concept
Based in Paris, the Pastagames studio is renowned for its quality productions (Rayman Legends, Rayman Mini, Pix’n Love Rush, Pix the Cat, Pang Adventures, etc.) and Arkanoid was immediately logical after the release of their Pac- Man Party Royale in 2019. But what to expect? As with the original, it all starts when the Arkanoi ship is attacked. Managing to extricate itself, the small Vaus aircraft is unfortunately imprisoned in a parallel dimension and only has its courage left to avoid sinking into an interstellar void. To regain their freedom, the crew must destroy “space walls”, in other words space walls in order to reach the evil entity, Doh, responsible for the destruction of the Arkanoid mothership. If the oldest will be delighted to find the original – available immediately among the different game modes – the curious will look at what makes the strength of this 2022 edition: its Battle Royale!
Unsurprisingly, Arkanoid Eternal Battle uses the clichés of the 1986 game. It is therefore always a question of a small vessel, the Vaus, positioned at the bottom of the screen and an increasingly crazy ball bouncing on the bricks of the top of the screen. The game mechanics are instinctive and the room for improvement, enormous, allows you to take advantage of the different ideas of the designers of Pastagames. Artistically, the studio was pleased by propelling the player into a very successful electro-futuristic universe. The menu music is ultra catchy and the game is teeming with visual details: streaks of light, strobe flashes, vibrations, graphic artifacts, colors illuminating the screen… no doubt, the immersion is total! The interface is also nice and makes it easy to switch from one mode to another.
Alone in front of the world
The Battle Royale mode is undoubtedly the one that holds the attention because it allows you to face 24 players simultaneously who all have one and the same goal: to survive! The principle is simple: you go from table to table and each error causes you to lose places in the ranking, which is displayed in real time. Doh taking care of eliminating the laggards, the objective is quite simply to obtain the best place. If you manage to stay among the last participants, you get the right to face Doh in an epic duel where the boss does not give any gift (destroying laser, etc.). During the games, it is quite possible to hinder your direct competitors by sending them power-ups (visual alterations, Vaus shrunk, sudden increase in speed, etc.) via the side buttons of the controller. To punctuate the games, the developers have integrated different types of bricks: those that destroy nearby blocks, those that transform the ball into an antimatter ball or even those that increase their values. The items meanwhile offer a dozen effects (speed reduction, piercing bullet, sticky Vaus, extra life, next level, etc.). It is even possible to “dash” to move your ship very quickly from one direction to another. Arkanoid retains its essence of yesteryear, but is boosted by this addictive modern reinterpretation. And in addition, it is crossplay, which allows you to play with users of other media.
DOH, and no OH!
Visually striking and well thought out, Arkanoid Eternal Battle offers a solitary mode called Neo as well as multiplayer for up to 4 players (with choice of the number of rounds and addition of one or more players managed by the AI if necessary). As indicated above, the room for improvement is colossal and the frustration of the first parts quickly fades once you take the measure of the different mechanics and the speed of the Vaus. The small vessel accelerates in its movements when one of the directions is maintained and the sensitivity of the controls is configurable in the options. Arkanoid Eternal Battle isn’t a big game, but it does what’s expected of it. The Battle Royale, when there are people (because it is not always the case), is very addictive and the multiplayer on this type of game is always as effective. In short, it’s all good! Now the game needs to get known for everyone to compete online.
- A successful artistic direction
- Music in tune
- The new mechanics
- Single player, multiplayer and online modes
- Respectful of the original work
- The final fight against Doh
- Anecdotal rewards (skins to decorate)
- We would have liked more musical themes
- Visual disturbances related to elements that appear in the middle of the game
To stretch the knuckles! Very respectful of the hit of yesteryear, Arkanoid Eternal Battle is adorned with a successful electro look and new mechanics that will delight fans of the genre. Uninhibited brick breaker, the title of Pastagames has the good idea to integrate an ingenious Battle Royale mode, but also a single or multiplayer mode for the long winter evenings. If the content could be more generous – if only in terms of rewards – the room for improvement is such that we come back to it regularly to improve our reflexes. A good little game that is just waiting for a large community to give full meaning to the Battle Royale.
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