Taito’s Arkanoid may not have been the original brick breaker – that accolade, of course, rests with Atari’s Breakout – but it’s probably the best. With the addition of weapons and power-ups, as well as 3D enemies recompiled as sprites, it took a primitive concept and completely reinvented it. Now, over 35 years removed from its original arcade release, French developer Pastagames has been tasked with innovating on the decades-old concept yet again. The result? Arkanoid: Eternal Battle.
The headline addition is a Battle Royale mode, which plays out in a cross-platform environment for up to 25 players. The online community is minuscule, so you’ll often find yourself up against a couple of other humans and the CPU, but at least this keeps the matchmaking swift. The action is slick, with the player in last place eliminated every 20 seconds, until the final four face-off in a climactic boss-style skirmish. You get unlimited lives, but miss the ball and a points penalty will be incurred.
The problem with the Battle Royale mode is, while you can directly influence your opponents with power-ups, you never really get a feel for the type of damage you’re inflicting. The best games in this field, like Tetris 99, allow you to plainly and obviously pile the pressure on your opponents – but here you’re merely overlaying a glitch filter to their board or temporarily making their bricks unbreakable, and subsequently the stakes never feel particularly elevated.
Outside of the online – which adopts a seasonal format and sees you unlocking new cosmetics as you work through the ranks – there’s a modernised version of single player Arkanoid which includes new power-ups and a combo system, as well as the 1986 original, both with online leaderboards. There’s also a rounds-based versus mode for four-person local multiplayer play. As a whole, the package is well executed, but with an asking price of £24.99/$29.99, it feels a little too light overall to overcome the sticker shock.