Game 21: Arkanoid Tournament (Taito, 1987)


Playing rules: Difficulty: Normal. Start: 3 lives. Continues: Not allowed

Current Record holders
1st: 1,730,320 - Zachary Hample - 2002
...
4th: 118,860 - Brian Laskiewicz - 2000

Wha? Arkanoid again! Tournament? Ye gods what’s going on? Well -Did you not get the email? The challenge has been changed – it’s now “So, you want to be an ARKANOID champion?”, Sorry about the confusion and all that it just seemed like the best thing to do. Oh go on then…..not really – I couldn’t lie to *you*.

Yes, we have our third Arkanoid game in a row, but before you get too upset it’s actually a lot worse than that. Arkanoid Tournament is pretty much EXACTLY the same game as the original Arkanoid, just with different, harder levels and slightly faster balls (wahey!). So what are we going to do then? Skip it? Nosiree bob, we’re going to play it!

Looking at the records presents an immediate puzzle. Considering this is the tournament edition, why on earth is the record score HIGHER than the standard edition? Surely giving it all the big, releasing a seperate hard version would suggest that it’s actually, well you know, harder? Regardless, it’s the same chap as first time Zachery that has the record, so again I would imagine the score is well out of the reach of us mere mortals.

And yes, the game is exactly the same. The title screen is different, but the intro and the game itself is identical. Only difference is that the first level looks like this

See all of those Grey blocks, that makes the level bloody tricky that does. I don’t know for sure, but I’m sure the ball is more likely to speed up if it hits a grey block than a normal one. Add to that the fact that grey blocks as well as taking two hits to kill, also don’t give you any power-ups. All in all it adds up to a recipe for a stingy, fast balled level – and that’s exactly what it is. Well, that’s not absolutely true – it doesn’t turn out to be as stingy as I expected, power-ups are quite plentiful actually, but man the ball speeds up a bit sharpish.

Playing the modern version in between the two Arkanoids has really highlighted the difficulty difference, the original game is proper tricky, and this tournament edition is faster as well. I’m a bloody mess, thats what I am!

Saying that, the level does lend itself quite nicely to the score whoring technique. Because there are so many grey blocks, you stay on the level forever and the potential for hoovering up power-ups is massive. In fact on my first go I reached 20,000 and my bonus life without even getting near the end of the first level!

And then I died a goodun.

Score: 24,260

Crikey, this is going to be a quick one – and an easy one as far as screenshots are concerned. Back in for the second go and immediately that proves to be wrong as a lovely pink “B” falls down allowing me to skip the level and go straight for level 2. Not the best way to get a score, but I want to at least see another level.

Quite suprising it is too.

What on earth does the American flag have to do with anything? I don’t know the history of the tournament edition, but Taito are a very Japanese company and up until now it’s been a pretty Japanese style game (I can’t explain what that actually entails, so just take my word for it). A little bit of investigation explains all immediately, and by “immediately” I *mean* “immediately”. Here is the artwork for the arcade machine:

I bet that 1987 was handy back in the day, just in case no-one had a calender to hand or something. So, this version was licensed by ROMSTAR and released in the US as a cocktail machine interestingly (cocktail means that it was an arcade machine built into a glass table, with the screen facing upwards – I hate the bloody things, but they are quite popular with people that don’t have much space).

Anyway, with that mystery uncovered, it’s actually quite a pointless level. Oh, it’s not easy by any means, the blocks are quite close to the bottom of the screen and the ball accelerates at a silly rate. Needless to say this game is over quickly as well.

Score: 31,980

Ok, third and last go – i’m bloody sick of Arkanoid now, especially when it is clearly making me its bitch. using a cross between the power-up farming and the “get-me-the-fuck-to-the-next-level-please” techniques I desperately try and get to the third level, if not just to flesh this entry out a bit and attempt to stave off your boredom of reading about bloody Arkanoid with another pretty picture. It was a close run thing, but I only bloody well did it.

Looking past the fact that I now feel quite pathetic celebrating getting to the 3rd level – this is clearly the level that tells the player to go and fuck himself. Just like in the first game the 3rd level is again mostly invincible gold blocks, just this time they are arranged in such a way as to maximise the pain. Spare a thought also for the baddies in this level, they can float about as much as they like – but they’re not escaping from that gold blocked wall no way, no how. I nearly complete the level, honest – but alas no more pretty pictures for us.

Score: 36,640

Damn, that was hard work. If anything, revisiting a version of the first game highlights just how much nicer to play the modern sequel was. However, I think I have found the reason why the score is actually higher on this clearly harder version. I reckon there is a skill plateau with this game where you simply become unbeatably good at it. The large record holders have obviously reached this and on doing so, this harder version allows them more opportunity to score big, hence the larger scores. It’s not even funny just how far I am away from this, but to be fair on me I can’t remember playing the actually arcade game – maybe the spinner makes it a little easier? A long shot, clutching at straws as I go, but I will leave Arkanoid now (yes there are NO more Arkanoid games I promise) and see how I get on if I meet the real machine.

I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t playing Arkanoid, roll on the next game I say.

4 thoughts on “Game 21: Arkanoid Tournament (Taito, 1987)

  1. I wonder if the japanese machine had the japanese flag :/

    Also, I take you liked the 1997 version of the game the better. Is that correct?

  2. i feel sorry for you…

    apart from that zachary fellow i dont know anybody who hasnt been made arkanoids bitch at some stage or another.

    damn that game

  3. Hi I was wondering if you knew what the 1987 machine is worth. I have one and it’s in real good condition, plays well and I have the key to the money box also. I’m moving and would like to get rid of it.

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