Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ArkX Review


"Breakin' blocks, breakin' blocks. Whatcha gonna do?" Sorry, COPS marathon was on tonight.

ArkX is a game where you have to break all of the blocks with a bouncing ball and paddle - sound familiar? That's right retro gamers, an Arkanoid/Breakout-style game! Heyo! So without going into tons of unneeded detail, many of the same classic concepts are present - different blocks in different formations, powerups to aid you, powerdowns that frustrate you, and a variety of different obstacles to navigate your ball around.

Starting with the pros, I do like the big colorful style, beefy block graphics, and simple control scheme. It's not flashy or cutting edge, but it doesn't really need to be. There is also a quick-slide for your paddle to get quickly from left to right (using the triggers) which was a smart move and saved me a couple times when I was juggling three balls. I also thought that the angles and physics were true to the classic (as I remember them) and easy enough to pick up and play right away. Boss battles and a wide-variety of boards will keep you entertained for a good while.

Two main critiques. The starting ball speed is verrrryyyy ssssloooow for my taste. I think a bit faster rate of play would increase the intensity and fun factor. And oh man if you pick up a "slow ball" powerup, you can grab a coffee break between each bounce. And then when you have to pee, you can take a pee break between every bounce. Second, some of the backgrounds are a bit distracting. Most are fine and actually well-done, but a couple of them were so active and warp-like that I was getting nauseous.

On my wish list, I would have liked to see more flashy effects and more creative power ups. For a game that has been rehashed many many times, you sort of need to up the ante yah? Everyone loves explosions! Also, remember that even the first Arkanoid had a bizarre story involved? (something about a mothership?) It would have been nice to see a story or strong theme attached to the gameplay - the possibilities are endless there. It could be planet/space/star themed, or sports themed, or mutant-blob themed - something to capture a little imagination and give it some flavor.

My recommendation is simple. This is a simple but classic production, and good fun. If you are fan of the classic brick-breakers, this is for you. At 200 MP, it's correctly priced as a value buy worth many of hours of gameplay. There's a ton of levels and it's an entirely family-friendly throw-back.

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