Arkanoid, a souped-up arcade remake of Atari's Breakout, was probably the best game to ever use Atari's paddle control. Although no such peripheral is yet available for the cell, Taito's absurdly simple wall-busting game is just as fresh today as it was in the 1980s.
You control a paddle at the bottom, bouncing a white ball toward three walls to destroy bricks. Knocking out all the bricks moves you to the next level, while missing a return bounce three times will end your game. The controls are about as simple as they come--the 4 and 6 keys move the paddle left and right, and 2 is the action key.
The first noticeably cool aspect of Arkanoid is the clear, detailed graphics. Everything from the level design to the color scheme is straight from the arcade game--and that's as it should be. Even better, Arkanoid maintains this level of graphical acuity while keeping up with the oft-frantic pace of gameplay. This is quite crucial when trying to follow a small ball on a portable game screen.
Arkanoid's second triumph lies in gameplay variety, thanks to an array of now-familiar paddle boosters. Special bricks release power-ups ranging from wider paddles to safety nets. The ball splitter that turns your single sphere into eight is a personal favorite--not only because of the beautiful arcade chaos it creates, but also because the game screen doesn't even break up during the process. Power-up blending is also a treat--just think about the brick-busting rampage you can initiate after grabbing two paddle-widening icons in a row.
Sound is Arkanoid's only mediocre area. The Arkanoid intro theme is right on the money, but the in-game brick pings are absolutely headache-inducing. Regardless, Arkanoid is the best translation yet of Taito's excellent arcade catalog. Let's hope this marks a new standard for blast-from-the-past retro ports.