Taito‘s Arkanoid was released into arcades in 1986 and did for bat and ball games (often referred to as Breakout clones) what Mario did for platform games. That is: revitalise them with new ideas and features.
The name “Arkanoid” refers to the ship that the player’s vessel – the “Vaus” – escapes from, which is shown in the introduction. Controlling the Vaus was by a dial, or paddle, on the cabinet, which allowed for quick, analogue movement of the bat. This was pretty much essential, because the ball speeds up the longer it is on-screen. Playing the game now, in MAME for example, the analogue controls are often switched to digital, which seriously hampers the player’s ability to move quickly. It pretty much ruins the game… So anyone wanting to play Arkanoid the way it should be played will have to switch the controls back to analogue and set them up to work with a mouse, a thumbstick, or an actual paddle.
The aim of the game is to clear every screen, either by bouncing the ball up at the blocks, by shooting them, or by picking up a falling capsule that opens up the next level. Fail to return the ball up the screen and you lose one of your bats. Lose all your bats and it’s game over.
Arkanoid is colourful, compelling, and very challenging. The game has stood the test of time well and has also been very influential over the decades. An even better sequel – Arkanoid: Revenge of Doh – was released in 1987.
More: Arkanoid on Wikipedia