Review: Arkanoid Plus! (WiiWare)

Another breakthrough for Taito?

Taito's doing a fine job reviving its classic franchise on WiiWare - Space Invaders was revived with a completely different, fun gameplay style, while three games from the Bubble Bobble series all got decent to great remakes. This one's more like the Bubble Bobble games, in that it's a straight-up remake of the original arcade game, Arkanoid.

Like the previous remake, Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move Plus!, Arkanoid doesn't really differ much from the original game. You still play as a simplistic horizontal paddle, and your objective is still to bounce a ball around and break all the blocks above. Certain blocks you destroy will cause items to appear, and picking these up with your paddle will cause a variety of effects, such as allowing the paddle to shoot lasers or allowing the ball to go straight through blocks instead of bouncing off each one.

The game features three different modes to try your hand at. There's the standard Arcade Mode, which sees you going through 31 stages. There's actually 61 different stages, but after each stage you clear, two portals will appear to the left and right of the playing field; depending on which one you go through, you'll play one of two different stages. In the 31st and final stage you'll face a boss, and yes, he'll be different depending on what portal you picked in the previous level!

The addition of DLC in their previous WiiWare games worked very well for Taito, so it's no surprise that it's back here, although in a slightly more limited quantity. There is a single DLC pack available for 200 Wii Points, which adds "Zone 2" to the Arcade Mode selection screen. It basically just has 61 different stages, so if you enjoy the previous 61, these are a good investment. Of course, there's a totally new boss at the end as well.

Arcade Mode has a whole bunch of different settings you can adjust before you start. The most significant is whether you want there to be enemies or not - if you turn them on, enemies will gradually appear in the playing field and then come towards your paddle. They actually don't hurt you or anything like that, they just cause your ball to bounce off if it hits them. If they touch the paddle they'll actually die! For the most part they're just an annoyance, so it might be smart to turn them off.

Aside from enemies, you can also select if you want to use lives or a barrier; if you choose lives, you lose one every time the ball flies off the screen. If you choose barrier mode a barrier will appear at the bottom of each round, and if the ball bounces off it three times it disappears, although it can be repaired with certain item pickups. If the ball then flies off the screen, it's an instant Game Over!

Aside from the Arcade Mode, there's also a Time Mode. In this you simply play a certain amount of levels which you have to beat in a certain amount of time, and isn't anything special. Naturally, the final mode is a two-player one, wherein both players get their own field and either have to destroy all blocks or all blocks of one certain colour before the other player does. There's also a few special items that only appear this mode; picking them up hinders your opponent by making his paddle smaller or by adding extra blocks to destroy.

Taito hasn't really tried to do anything special with the graphics and music. The graphics are incredibly simple, and the music is basically just a bunch of simple remixes of the original arcade game's tunes.

Conclusion

Arkanoid Plus! is another fine addition to Taito's series of classic franchise remakes. It doesn't really do anything special or new, but it doesn't have to: the core game is just as addictive as it's always been. Sure, the only thing you can really do is go for high scores or play against a friend, but if you're having fun while doing so, who cares?

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