Arkanoid Live Review: They Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore
It’s undeniable that “Arkanoid” is a longstanding video game classic. It’s been around for 13 years, and although it is a take on Atari’s “Breakout,” it’s Taito’s “Arkanoid” that is still around, and it’s their version that is the quintessential take on the brick breaker “genre.” The fact that it has been around for so long, makes it hard to say that the franchise is “back” with a new release for Xbox Live Arcade, because the franchise has seen releases as recently as last year’s DS version, so it may be more appropriate to say that “Arkanoid” is here, again.
The XBLA release, “Arkanoid Live,” is essentially the same game that you have been playing since it was originally released in the arcades, just minus the awesome knob controller. You guide your spaceship (a.k.a. paddle) back and forth across the bottom of the screen to try and keep the ball moving, clearing out the bricks, all the while secretly hoping for the laser power up to fall. Once all the blocks are gone, you move onto the next level and do it all over again. Outside of “Pong,” “Arkanoid” is pretty much as basic as they come - and in today’s world of complex controls, high def graphics, and 64 player multiplayer maps, the simplicity is a welcome change.
Along with the classic “Arkanoid” gameplay, comes the classic story - for better or worse. The Mothership Arkanoid has been destroyed, and the tiny Vaus ship has escaped and is on a mission to defeat the the mysterious DOH. Sure, it doesn’t make a lot of sense… it never made a lot of sense, but the gameplay is really why you’re here isn’t it?
In addition to the decade old addiction that the “Arkanoid Live” gameplay could help you feed, there are some added features in this version of the game that offer a slightly different experience than its predecessors have. First and foremost, I’m almost certain this is the first time the game has been presented in HD, and while the basics of the game - the Vaus, blocks and ball - have all pretty much remained the same (as the original), every level is spruced up with a beautiful, and occasionally distracting, background. It gives the game a more modern feel, all the while making it very easy to lose your ball in the technicolor backdrops.
“Arkanoid Live” also takes full advantage of Xbox Live, as it offers an online multiplayer mode, where you can finally take you skills online, and prove, once and for all, that you are the “Master of the Vaus.” However, if you’re at the other end of the multiplayer spectrum, and co-op is a little more your speed, you can play with a friend, and do you best as a team to take down DOH and all of his cohorts.
Unfortunately, “Arkanoid Live” also takes advantage of Xbox Live’s ability to make your MS points disappear. Your first 800 MS points nets you the first two “episodes” of “Arkanoid Live,” but it leaves episodes 3 and 4 mysteriously gray in the level selection menu. For an extra 240 MS points each, Taito (a division of Square Enix) will gladly sell you the rest of the game. Now, I’m not necessarily complaining about the fact that you don’t get a good amount of levels with your initial purchase, because you do - there are 62 in total. I mostly have a problem with the fact that these aren’t included in the initial purchase of the game. It just seems annoying that Taito is going to sell you half of the available content, and then charge you an extra $6 for the rest of the game. While it nice to have the option to spend less money, and only buy what you want, since the game is broken into parts - it just seems like it would be more convenient to be packaged as one purchase, instead of three (preferably at the $10 price point).
While there are “classic” games that older gamers speak of with timeless love in their voices, their views are occasionally clouded with hints of nostalgia. However, “Arkanoid” is one game that has sustained the test of time and continually extended its stay in the world of video games. It’s challenges never get old, and, although it might be a bit slow for some members of today’s gaming generation, it has an enduring quality to it that almost assures that this won’t be the last time we see this game.
“Arkanoid Live” was released by the Taito Corporation for the Xbox 360, via the Xbox Live Arcade on May 16, 2009.