Codex Gamicus

Arkanoid is an arcade game released by Taito. The game was later ported to many home computers and consoles. The game is an update of Atari's Breakout.


The player controls the Vaus, a paddle-shaped ship that must deflect an energy ball toward an arrangement of blocks in the playfield to destroy them. The player must keep the ball in play or else a Vaus ship is lost. Some blocks require two hits in order to be destroyed, while some blocks are indestructible. Occasionally, a block will release a power-up capsule that will give the player various abilities: expanded Vaus, capture and release, slowed-down energy ball, multiple energy balls, Vaus with lasers, warp into the next screen, and an extra ship. The ultimate goal is to reach the final confrontation with Doh, who holds the Vaus ship captive in these playfields.


Because of the game's popularity, five other versions of the game were developed for the market: Tournament Arkanoid and Revenge of Doh (Arkanoid II) both in 1987, Arkanoid - Doh It Again and Arkanoid Returns both in 1997, Arkanoid DS in 2007, Arkanoid Live, and, most recently, Arkanoid Plus! on WiiWare.

The controls used by various conversions differ from machine to machine, and some conversions allow for multiple control methods. The two basic control methods are digital and analog. Digital controls (many joysticks and control pads, and keyboards) are considered less desirable than analog controls (most mice, trackballs, and paddles); while digital controls limit the player to single-speed control, analog controls allow the player to move the Vaus at nearly any desired speed across the screen. The NES version of Arkanoid was originally packaged with what's considered one of the rarest of all NES controllers, the Vaus Controller: a small gray controller featuring one button, a small spinner (with limited turn radius), an adjustment port, and the Taito logo. While the game may be played with the standard digital NES control pad, optimum gameplay is achieved with the Vaus Controller. Latter-day MAME arcade cabinet developers have created customized spinner controls to further simulate the arcade experience, although the Arkanoid controller had quirks which have made it difficult to achieve 100% reproduction. The Japanese DS version features an optional paddle controller that connects in the Game Boy Advance slot, but the paddle controller is not being released in America.


The game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #144 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.

Ports and related releases[]

Many of the 8-bit computer ports (ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC 464, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, MSX, Atari 8-bit, Apple II) were very popular in Europe in the 1980s. A console port on the NES was also popular, and the game was also ported for 16-bit computers Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIGS and IBM PC. A Macintosh version was released in 1987 and a port was released for the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1989. A Super NES version called Arkanoid: Doh It Again was released in 1997. Arkanoid Returns and a sequel, Arkanoid Returns 2000, were released in Japan for the PlayStation. 16-bit versions had identical graphics as the arcade game. Commodore 64 conversion of Arkanoid is known as the first game for the system to feature music that used digitized samples (composed by Martin Galway). Computer conversions were published by Imagine. A version for the Nintendo DS handheld, titled Arkanoid DS, was released in Japan, with a North American release on August 1, 2008. An unlicensed version for Texas Instruments' popular TI-83 calculator is also available, reflecting, in many ways, the advances in computer technology since its original release.

The Amiga version was reviewed in Computer Gaming World and praised as a perfect version of the arcade game. The review praised the computer versions for playability and features missing from other arcade-style games of the time, such as the ability to continue after all lives are lost. An Xbox 360 version of Arkanoid, titled Arkanoid Live!, was released on May 6, 2009 on Xbox Live Arcade. A WiiWare version of Arkanoid, titled Arkanoid Plus!, was released in Japan on May 26, 2009, in PAL regions on August 21, 2009 and in North America on September 28, 2009.A version of Arkanoid for the iPhone was released worldwide on August 31, 2009 and appeared in the App Store on September 7, 2009.


Arkanoid has remained a popular game and is commonly cloned by aspiring game developers in freeware and shareware titles. Many companies have also regularly cloned the game in video arcades. Arkanoid's popularity led to it being featured in Rainbow Islands, which has a whole level (4 stages in all) dedicated to the game, including Doh as the level boss. In Alleyway for the original Nintendo Game Boy, Mario is seen on the cover art to be piloting the Vaus-like paddle.


External links[]