Spectrum Games Arkanoid II
Far better than Arkanoid (which I can't get running properly on my emulator), the classic arcade game Arkanoid II by Imagine Software was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1988.
I used to be really good at this.... how times have changed!
In another twist on the gaming genre of breakout, Arkanoid II (The Revenge of Doh) proved that classic playability was.... well still classic.
In an attempt to shoe-horn a back story around a souped-up version of breakout, it went something along the lines of:
A huge alien spacecraft (the crappily named ZARG) had entered our universe - which was a tad naughty. It was known to contain the dimension controlling force DOH who was supposed to have been destroyed forty thousand years previously in the Arkanoid Spacewars (or in Arkanoid).
Doh had now metamorphisised into an even greater adversary - and with his new found lust for power threatened to destroy the universe.
Only your skill and split second timing could save the day! Deploy the bat (sorry I mean the new Vaus II spacecraft) to defeat this dimension controlling scoundrel!
Anyway... enough of that. Arkanoid II was a simple but addictive arcade game - and this time the Spectrum conversion did it justice.
You controlled the Vaus craft (bat), which could be moved to left and right. You had to deflect an energy bolt (ball) which gradually broke down the wall confronting you. Certain coloured bricks had to be hit more than once and others were completely indestructible.
To spice things up alien life forms descended at random to hinder you but were eliminated on contact with either the Vaus or the energy bolt.
There were various powerups which would drop downwards when certain blocks were destroyed. Some of these powerups were really helpful:
B - Allowed you to escape (through the side wall) to the next level
C - Enabled you to catch the bolt and move to the desired position before firing it off again
D - Split the bolt into five separate components - giving you five times the destructive effect
E - Expanded the Vaus in length
G - 'Ghost Vaus' which trailed along behind the Vaus but could not deflect the energy bolt!
L - Laser Cannons allowed you to shoot through bricks and aliens
M - Broke the bolt into three separate components which regenerated when each one was lost
P - Awarded you an extra life (nice)
R - Reduced your Vaus in size (making it harder to deflect the energy bolt - not nice)
S - Slowed the speed of the energy bolt - making it easier to deflect
T - This caused a twin of the Vaus to appear - so you had two Vaus 'side by side' - Jedward Vaus
Extra lives were awared for every 50,000 points scored, and as the levels progressed you did need them.
I think there were 34 levels in total - the last one being a confrontation with Doh itself. Defeating Doh handed you victory - and let me tell you it wasn't easy.
Both Arkanoid games had been popular in the arcades - and the first game (Arkanoid) on the Spectrum had been disappointing. Revenge of Doh was a good conversion that crammed most of the playability of the original into 8-bits and 48K. The only niggles were the lack of trackball or dial control and the colour schemes used on some of the levels made it difficult to keep your eye on the ball / energy bolt.
The test of time:
Well Breakout style games were already retro then being simple in concept and requiring responsive controls and excellent physics to work well. Arkanoid II still does the job pretty well - if you like a bit of Breakout then you can't go wrong. It's just a shame about those colour schemes!
Play it again, D'oh!
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Arkanoid II for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: 1988
RELEASED BY: Imagine Software
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Lamb, Mark R Jones, Gary Baisillo, Ronny Fowles
PRICE: £7.95 (£14.95 on disk) - UK
Bat n Ball could still be good - Arkanoid II is classic arcade game action:
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