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Arkanoid Evolution

For: Mobile

Without a paddle?

Product: Arkanoid Evolution | Developer: Typhon Mobile | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Format: Mobile | Genre: Arcade, Retro | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 629KB | Reviewed on: K810i other handsets | Version: Europe
Arkanoid Evolution Mobile, thumbnail 1
If you were to compare video games to beverages (and, purely for the purpose of this introductory paragraph, we’re going to) then Arkanoid is arguably Pepsi to Breakout’s Coca Cola.

The arcade version was released way back in 1986 and is shamelessly derivative of Atari’s ‘70s classic. The most obvious change was that Arkanoid attempted to shoehorn in an implausible plot involving futuristic spaceships and aliens that looked like Easter Island statues.

Despite such bare-faced cloning, Arkanoid was a massive success and has gone on to spawn many sequels, of which Arkanoid Evolution is the most recent.

The premise is simple: you control a paddle-shaped spaceship (known as the Vaus) which floats along the bottom of the screen. The objective is to smash blocks with a ball, which you have to keep in play by repeatedly hitting it with said paddle-shaped spaceship. If you fail and the ball drops off the bottom of the screen, you lose a life.

The game is divided into three modes of play. Mission Mode is where you’ll be spending the majority of your time - here you tackle over 48 stages stretched across four different planets. Once you’ve successfully defeated them all, you gain access to the final stage: the rather ominously entitled Celestial Abyss.

As you progress through the Mission Mode you unlock more Vaus craft, each with different special abilities. These range from explosive capabilities (which help destroy blocks faster and more effectively) to the capacity to catch the ball whenever it makes contact with the Vaus, thus giving you the time to line up your next shot.

These power-ups appear randomly as you destroy blocks and must be captured as they drift down the screen. However, it should be noted that not every item has a positive effect: there are several ‘power down’ objects which conspire to make your task even more difficult.

‘Mirror’, for example, switches the path of your Vaus, meaning that you have to push the opposite direction to the one you wish to move in - right becomes left and left becomes right.

While Mission Mode offers a pretty sizable slab of block-breaking entertainment, Quick Game is ideal for when you’re looking to fill a few moments here and there. You’re given a level to tackle at random and the aim is to complete as many stages as possible.

Time Attack is a similar proposition, and both of these events carry a strong focus on attaining as high a score as possible.

Although this mobile phone revamp does contain some fresh features, it’s hardly worthy of the ‘evolution’ moniker. In fact, many of the alterations made will alienate hardcore fans of the series.

Later levels become bogged down with unnecessary complexities. Elements such as sliding doors, transportation vents and invincible enemies complicate matters to an almost unacceptable level and the somewhat cramped play area often makes things even more frustrating.

However, the biggest issue with Arkanoid Evolution is that the ball physics feel decidedly dodgy, meaning that it’s difficult to line up shots or predict where the ball is likely to ricochet. Again, this adds to the already considerable level of aggravation.

Updating a classic game is not a task to be taken lightly and while this re-imagining showcases some above-average production values and a well-constructed mission mode, it’s impossible to ignore that the core gameplay is severely lacking in appeal.
Arkanoid Evolution
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 18 June 2009
Excellent presentation and a capacious mission mode can’t stop the feeling that this is more devolution than evolution
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