Like Space Invaders Extreme, Arkanoid is another classic table-top arcade game that has been given a new lease on life with the impending release of the game for the Nintendo DS handheld.
Chances are if you've owned a PC, console, or in some cases a mobile phone, you've probably played Arkanoid, even if you don't know it by that name. For the uninitiated, the general gist is that you take control of a small paddle and bounce a ball upward, trying to destroy all the blocks on the playfield. Provided you can keep the ball moving, it continues to speed up, making it progressively tougher to keep it from getting past you. In the meantime, power-ups and penalty items continue to rain down randomly from the blocks as you destroy them. Some provide you bonuses, such as lengthening your paddle to cover more ground and giving you extra firepower that lets you shoot at blocks with bullets. There's also a special type of ball that ignores collision with the blocks and simply rolls its way through everything in its path.
Arkanoid fans will be happy to learn that in addition to retaining all the classic features, the upcoming Taito-developed DS version will include a few new twists. Previously, if you missed the ball, it would fall into the abyss below you and take one of your lives. This also removed any speed and power-ups you may have accrued along the way. Arkanoid DS now has a colored safety-net-style device. The bar under your paddle is yellow when undamaged but quickly turns from orange to red and then disappears if you let three balls slip through. Once the net is gone, you're on your own. If you miss again, it's game over.
Controlling your paddle is handled in a couple of different ways, depending on your preference. Moving around can be done either with the D pad, dragging the stylus on the DS touch screen, or with an optional hardware peripheral that plugs in the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot and uses a scroll knob. We played with all three methods, and while the stylus wasn't uncomfortable, we found the D pad the most accurate. We also found the knob controller best for desperation wrist flicks.
In addition to the single-player campaign that sees you busting blocks, there's a quest mode and a time attack against the game's artificial intelligence to destroy all the blocks before it can. Quest works like the single-player mode but includes a timer counting down as you try to score the various point requirements.
Taito has yet to confirm when, or even if, the game will launch worldwide, but it does have an intended release in Japan this December. Keep an eye on GameSpot for updates and news.