Classic bat-and-ball fun
One of the very first video games to hit the mainstream was Breakout, which put a neat spin on the even earlier Pong and introduced many gamers to the 'bat and ball' genre. Fast forward a years to 1986 and Taito's original Arkanoid became immensely popular in arcades and through home conversions, adding many new features to the basic gameplay and broadening its appeal. Of course, any successful game needs a sequel so 1988 saw the release of Arkanoid 2 which retained the essential fun factor of its predecessors but added a few new elements and improved graphics. The basic premise is simple enough, with the player in control of a spaceship which acts as the paddle and which can be moved left and right along the bottom of the screen. Above the ship are a series of blocks which must be destroyed in order to move on to the next level and which is achieved by hitting them with a ball. Some blocks may require several hits to destroy, with careful positioning of the paddle required for success. Throw in some cool power-ups, like multiple balls, sticky paddles and even weapons and you have all the makings of a great arcade game that really tests your reflexes. Arkanoid 2 doesn't add in much, but there are a couple of new block types, while branching levels also make an appearance via the introduction of Warp Gates. The graphics are notably slicker than previously, with great use of colour that helps make the game stand out. Arkanoid 2 really is the best of the Breakout clones, and the only feature it lacks is a simultaneous two-player mode (although alternate play is included). For single player bat-and-ball fun though, this is the number one choice, but check out Batty for some great two-up action.