Classic arcade styles have stood the test of time, making them ideal subjects for experimentation. Combine two in a certain way and you might just make a delicious chocolate/peanut butter combo of fun. The retro concoction of INVANOID, however, is a different matter.
INVANOID combines the downward travelling foes of Space Invaders with the ball-and-paddle mechanics of Arkanoid. Players control a small block at the bottom of the screen, trying to keep a ball aloft on the screen. This ball is the only weapon against the larger, one-eyed alien blocks descending in sets of rows, slowly fluttering like leaves on the… well, no. Just blocks moving left and right.
The only thing that ends the game is dropping the ball. Even if the enemy blocks reach yours, getting hit only takes the score down one point each time. Once a set of blocks reaches a certain depth, an exact copy will reappear at the top and begin its descent.
The only goal is to rack up as high a score as possible, but INVANOID lacks any incentive to invest much time in it. The player's block somehow feels both sluggish and slippery at the same time, with only the directional pad to control it. There is no fine-tuning with the analogue stick, nor do any bonuses show up that might help the player or change the circumstances of the looping situation at hand.
The appeal of many Arkanoid-type games is the feeling of being able to control the angle of the ball to some degree, but that isn't felt here. The block that serves as the paddle has such a small surface area that you'll often be more concerned with just saving the ball from doom than batting it in a certain direction. The game resets after only one life, but since it's the same simple, endless pattern, it doesn't really feel like even that matters.
There's little sense of control or player influence, the "invaders" don't feel like a threat, and there's no tangible joy in racking up the points. The game has a nice one-song soundtrack, at least.
INVANOID has a decent kernel of a concept in its arcade hybridization, but is completely lacking in the sense of immersion either original provided or the imagination to combine these styles into something that feels worth playing. There are better items out there to take up your space.