While we at SNES Hub love to look back on the good old days of the Super Nintendo, it’s interesting to remember that video game nostalgia was alive and well even during the 16-bit era. Towards the end of the SNES’s lifetime, many ports of classic arcade games from the early to mid 80’s began appearing for the system. These ports came in the form of individual releases, like Frogger and compilations like Williams Arcade’s Greatest Hits. At their best, these games would feature additions and enhancements to the original arcade classic. At their worst, these ports would feel barebones and unworthy of being played on a 16-bit machine.
Arkanoid: Doh it Again was an enhanced port of the 1986 arcade original, Arkanoid. Developed by Taito and released in 1997, chances are you missed this game’s original release, since most SNES owners had already moved on to an N64 or PlayStation by then. Is this arcade port worth tracking down or is it best left forgotten? Read on to find out!
Surprisingly, Arkanoid: Doh it Again does have an in-game story. The game follows the adventures of a spaceship looking to find new inhabitable planets. These spacefarers are constantly being thwarted by Doh, a malevolent Easter Island Moai head. So while there’s technically a story, it’s all rather silly. Since the game is all about arcade-style action, the ridiculousness of the story is easily forgivable and actually adds a little to its charm. But how does it play?
The original Arkanoid is a clone of Atari’s classic Breakout, which is itself a variant of Pong. At its core, Breakout involves moving a paddle left and right along the bottom of the screen to bounce a ball towards patterns of colored bricks along the top of the screen. These bricks break on contact with the ball and once all of the bricks are cleared you can move on to the next level. Arkanoid adds some twists to this basic formula, by adding a variety of power-ups such as elongated paddles and paddle-mounted lasers. One power-up even let’s you skip a level entirely! The game also features a variety of critters floating around the play field that can both help and harm you. For example, some critters will teleport your ball to another location.
Arkanoid: Doh it Again features several enhancements over the arcade original, including a wealth of additional content and features. First and foremost, the game has 99 levels, three times as many as the original arcade game. Every 10 levels or so there is a boss encounter, which keeps the game fresh and exciting. There’s also a password feature to allow you to continue your progress; a must for a game with so many stages.
Better still the game features several two-player options. The first mode is a fairly pedestrian; two-player alternating version of the arcade game. While this isn’t bad, I don’t know why anyone would bother with it considering that the game also features a simultaneous co-op mode. Lastly, there is also a head-to-head versus mode, which challenges players to clear the stage faster, or survive longer, than their opponent. Both the co-operative and competitive modes are a lot of fun and really add to the game.
The last significant addition to Arkanoid: Doh it Again is a full level editor! Creating and playing your own levels is a blast. The only problem is that there is no way to save any of your levels, so best enjoy them while you can.
The controls are both simple and streamlined. Using the standard SNES controller, you can move your paddle left or right with the D-pad and increase your paddle movement speed by holding down a button. You can also tweak the paddle’s default speed in the options menu. This setup works surprisingly well and is more than adequate to tackle the challenges Arkanoid throws at you. Taito also included the option of controlling the game using the SNES mouse. The mouse works even better than the standard controller and gives more nuanced and precise control. Whatever control method you choose, Arkanoid: Doh it Again offers a smooth, responsive experience.
The standard in-game graphics are bright and colorful, but very simplistic. They get the job done but are nothing special, especially for a 1997 SNES release. The boss battles however are quite impressive. Some bosses even feature awesome scaling and rotation effects. The game also sports a cool Mode 7 intro and some great looking cut scenes. Overall, the game fares quite well graphically.
On the audio front, Arkanoid is a slight disappointment. A high-energy jingle plays before each stage, but that’s all the music you’ll get for the regular stages. Boss levels do feature full background music, but nothing particularly memorable. Sound effects consist of your typical mid ’80s arcade bleeps and bloops. Strangely, I find the sound effects give a bit of a therapeutic quality to the gameplay and actually sound quite pleasing. While this doesn’t quite make up for the lack of music, it does save the game from being a total letdown in the audio department.
Arkanoid: Doh it Again is the best early to mid 1980s arcade port on the SNES. In 1997, Taito would have been forgiven for phoning it in with this one, as most gamers had moved on to the N64 and PlayStation. Instead, they went the extra mile by adding fantastic extras like two-player co-operative and competitive modes, a full level editor and three times as many levels as the original arcade game. Arkanoid: Doh it Again features hours of fun at a very affordable price. Highly recommended.
HAVE AN OPINION?
You can submit reviews for games on the Submissions page.