[Editor's note: This was originally a review of the Japanese import version of Arkanoid DS, but we find it applies to the recently released domestic version equally well, with one exception: That paddle controller the review praises? It's not in our version. Luckily, the stylus works well. It's just not as cool.]
This package is a real case of beauty and the beast. Although you can still play the game using more conventional control methods, Arkanoid DS is best "enjoyed" using the paddle controller that comes stuffed in its oversized box as standard.
A white box that protrudes indecently from the GBA slot, DS's paddle controller (a nod to the arcade original's control method) is a seriously lush piece of kit. It's sizable without being obtrusive, pleasingly solid to the touch and works like a charm (once you've nipped into Arkanoid's options screen and turned the sensitivity level down to "1", of course, as it's literally unplayable otherwise). There's only one problem, and this is it: it's only compatible with one game, and this one game is so startlingly bad it's quite hard not to take it personally.
Arkanoid DS is a "re-imagining" of Taito's 1986 coin-op title of the same name, which was an excellent Breakout clone that shook up the slightly anemic ball/bat/brick formula by adding several new elements, such as powerups and sneaky enemies that cruised around the brickscape making life difficult for you. Now, about this re-imagining: The makers have, unfortunately, imagined what Arkanoid would be like if they removed all the enemies, instantly stripping it of what marketing drones would call its 'unique selling point.'
But even then, it's not a very good Breakout game. For whatever reason, Arkanoid takes place on a narrow playing field that only uses approximately 50% of the DS screen's width, which when coupled with a dead zone between the two screens roughly the size of a large sausage, makes trying to judge any kind of angle (the guts of a Breakout game, natch) an impossible task. Given that it's thus nigh-on impossible to get the ball to go where you want, you won't thank Taito for loading later screens with a barrage of stupid unbreakable golden blocks that force you to somehow direct the ball into gaps that are no wider than an ant's arse. The paddle controller deserved a better box-buddy than this.
Jan 24, 2008