Game Review

Arkanoid DS Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Stuart Reddick

It's not quite as fun as it should be

Released simultaneously with another Taito revival, Space Invaders Extreme, Arkanoid DS is an attempt at trying to breathe life into an old arcade classic. When Arkanoid was originally released, it was essentially a clone of the Atari classic Breakout. Despite this shameless copying, Arkanoid became quite a hit and Taito duly ported the concept to pretty much every home format you could mention. Now it's the turn of the DS and this time around the developer has added touch-screen controls, hoping to bring the old fashioned game back to its former glory on a modern platform. Sadly, they didn’t quite succeed.

The main objective in Arkanoid DS is to use a paddle to bounce a ball upwards to break blocks at the top of the screen. Eventually the ball will fall back down and it is your task to bounce it back up again. Once the ball hits the paddle, it will make its journey back up the screen to break even more blocks until you've cleared the entire display. Occasionally power-ups will fall down after a particular block has been destroyed. To activate the power-up, you will need to catch it before it disappears into the abyss below; should the ball drop into this void then you lose a life. The power-ups do all sorts of weird and wonderful things to your paddle like making it magnetic so that the balls stick to it, but they may also increase the number of balls on the screen.

The developers of Arkanoid DS utilized both of the Nintendo DS’ screens to play the game. It sounds like a pretty smart idea on paper but in practices it's less impressive. As the ball travels between the screens it has to pass through the space where the hinge that joins the top and bottom displays of the DS, meaning that for a split second your ball is invisible. That split second could be the deciding factor in whether or not you manage to rebound your ball back up the screen, and when you're at a particularly taxing section of the game, this can obviously cause problems.

It gets worse. Instead of allowing the entire two screens to be played with the game, Taito thought that two borders down either side would be more appropriate but that also means that roughly half your play area is gone. Additionally, your paddle is positioned very high, giving you less time to respond when your ball is on the way back. A force field at the bottom of the screen bounces your ball back three times should you miss it but after that you are out of luck.

Arkanoid DS lets you go online with the game and play against other people using either friend codes or simply by playing against a random player. You can go head to head with up to four players. The game keeps track of how many blocks your opponent has destroyed and negative power-ups are passed onto your opponents, with you getting to keep the beneficial power-ups. We're always glad to see online multiplayer modes being featured in games but in the case of Arkanoid DS the core gameplay is so poor that you're unlikely to find many people to play against.

The graphics may look clean and crisp at first, but after a while they get really repetitive. Why not have some animations in the background instead of just a still image? Fortunately the audio fares much better. It is almost as though Taito took the original sound and musical score and modernized them. The best sound effect is a cool retro-sounding click that chimes in whenever the ball hits either a block or the side.

In Japan Arkanoid DS came bundled with a Paddle Controller. This spinner peripheral mimics the arcade version’s weighted knob and is used to move the paddle. Taito put considerable effort into making it, but it is not included with the western versions and you can’t buy it outside of Japan. The only way to get it is by importing one. With the Paddle Controller, Arkanoid DS is barely passable; without it, it's even less appealing.


Arkanoid DS disappoints in so many ways. Even with a retail price of $19.99, the game is just not worth picking up. If you're looking for a great remake of a classic arcade game, then pick up Taito's other retro remake - Space Invaders Extreme. As it stands, Arkanoid DS is a pitiful attempt at reviving a well-loved classic that deserves better than this.

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User Comments (13)



Objection said:

Not the review I was expecting but...glad that I read it. Is the Arkanoid clone on Wiiware any good?



Damo said:

Totally agree with the review here. I can't believe Taito released this and Space Invaders Extreme at the same time - you couldn't find two more different retro remakes in terms of quality!



Rocky said:

I'm addicted to this game. To be fair, I have always been a fan of breakout style games and this one includes a ton of unlockables, which keep me coming back for more. Lately I haven't been able to put this game down. I also enjoy the strategy side of this game on deciding which power-ups to use and which to avoid depending on what type of "structure" you are trying to destroy. As mentioned, the music is great, and you can unlock a whole slew of different songs and sound effects. Enjoyed the review, glad to see Arkanoid DS getting some attention, even if it isn't the greatest score.



Olimar_91 said:

I wonder how Nervous Brickdown is... It's similar to this, but developed by the people behind Big Bang Mini.

Good to know about this one though.



KeeperBvK said:

A friend of mine did the translation from Japanese to German...too bad the game sucks. ^^



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Looks quite bland, actually. Reminds me of Furu Furu Party's version of this for some reason....

@Obj_Blaster: If you mean Block Breaker Deluxe, yes it is quite good. The 7/10 is quite deserved and that's what I'd rate it as well. I really enjoyed playing it and I'm tempted to delete my file and start all over considering how much I enjoyed getting to the final venue and such. If you're wondering about multiplayer, it's okay but could've been better.



naut said:

Odd...GameSpot praised this game. Gave it an 8/10. I'm not sure who to trust but...Well no offense to these guys, but I think I'll put my trust on GS.




I grew up on breakout and super breakout on the atari 2600 with the paddle controllers and they were addidcting and i still have them in pristine condition,lol then arkanoid was released on the nes packaged with it's special controller and i bought it and played it and loved it,(still have the controller) then alleywat came to game boy which was no doubt a clone of arkanoid and i enjoyed it as well,these were great games now this horrible arkanoid ds wtf?! I bought my ds for certain revised titles not it's everyday trash,handhelds just do not get it done...i bought the jap dsi way back in november and i must say it sucks,the camera and functionality is very poor..it was obviously more of a marketing scheme than anything but what do the gamers know of marketing they just keep buying trash like that without knowing.



CanisWolfred said:

I was gonna get this game until I saw that awesome Wiiware rip-off(which I still haven't gotten).



Syr said:

Nervous Brickdown is actually quite good. It's a lot more polished than this game looks.



Wolfcoyote said:

I bought the game and yes, it is bland. I got a little fun out of it because was what it was, a Breakout-like game, plus I had owned the even more bland Break 'Em All which was one my first DS games back in 2006 and was desperately looking for a better title. Being able to customize the look of the field, the Vaus, the blocks and the music was like putting sugar in a bowl of cereal with expired milk - it wasn't really worth it and it didn't make the overall game any better.

The upcoming Arkanoid Plus for WiiWare should more than make up for it.

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