The spinning disc controller returned to the arcades in 1986 with Arkanoid – an excellent update of the bat ‘n’ ball genre many first saw on the Atari VCS (Breakout) in 1978. To give it a modern sheen, the creators came out with a plotline regarding a spacecraft called ‘Vaus’ that is trapped in a void after the ‘Arkanoid’ mothership is blown up. To escape, Vaus must get past 32 levels and confront the “dimension changer”. In other words, it’s Breakout with better graphics and power ups!
While the simple concept clearly suited the Spectrum, the disc controller of the arcade machine didn’t, so the programmers got round this by varying the bat speed depending on how far away you were from the ball. At first, this is disorientating and can fool you into thinking the game is broken, but given time, it becomes intuitive and does work for the better. Once you get the hang of this- and accept the bat doesn’t allow particularly fine cutting of the ball- you can appreciate the excellent level design, simple, colourful graphics and the layer of interest added by power ups that are highly useful in some stages and totally useless in others! Don’t let the initial difficulties with the controls drive you Batty – this is the best Breakout game on the Spectrum.