Arkanoid was one of the first few games I played when I was very young; I vividly remember pushing a black and red joystick side to side whilst getting feverishly frustrated with that bouncing ball. Why it never goes in the direction I want it to I will never know! It seemed that along with Space Invaders Extreme, Arkanoid Live was looking to be a joyous little addition to the Xbox LIVE Arcade library.
I’d be surprised if you have not ever played a type of Arkanoid or Breakout before. For formalities sake however, I’ll explain the basic game play: You control a small ship called the ‘Vaus’ at the bottom of the screen, it goes left or right and can even going faster if you hold the bumper buttons on your controller. Colourful bricks float above and you have to break those bricks with a small ball that bounces off of the Vaus. Some coloured bricks release power ups that give you a quick boost such as multiple balls to control or lasers – and it’s these moments that make Arkanoid pretty addictive.
Arkanoid Live stays true to the series, offering fun but challenging level upon level of brick destroying action. There are 4 episodes to choose from, though only 2 become open from the start of the game. These run for 30 rounds with a boss at the end, nothing really spectacular. Plus playing 30 rounds of Arkanoid non stop gets a little repetitive and you can’t help but feel like dropping out half way.
Before starting an episode you have a choice of difficulty and if you would require lives or barriers, which is a good way to customise your play style. You also are given an option to include enemies for an extra challenge, but apart from that it’s the same old Arkanoid.
There are some multiplayer options available in the game, the first being an off-line co-op. I really don’t understand the continuing trend of off-line only co-op, the whole point of Arkanoid Live being ‘Live’ is so people can enjoy playing against or with each other. It makes no sense at all why there is no online co-op as the online versus modes all work pretty well without any real lag issues. This mode is nothing special either; it’s just the same as the single player but with an extra Vaus below you ready to catch anything you didn’t hit, so if player one is pretty good then player 2 will never get a chance to play.
The online versus mode however comes in two variants, Bust All or Bust Colour. The Bust All version is just to take out all the bricks on you screen, you can see your opponents screen also to add a bit of pressure. Bust Colour is about getting rid of your chosen colour as quick as possible, a nice break from the usual.
Aesthetics have really taken a back seat this time, with the game displaying poorly designed backgrounds and menus that just remind you how dated this title is. Game play is already solid so it makes no sense as to why such little effort has gone into the look of the game.
When you pay full price for an arcade game, especially a classic game, you expect some innovative alterations. Space Invaders Extreme took basic game play into an enjoyable online extravaganza; Arkanoid Live hasn’t really evolved Arkanoid at all. In fact, apart from the little polish on the menu and a multiplayer option, the game is pretty much the same as I played 15 years ago!