Last year, many SNES games celebrated their 25th anniversary. 2018 will mark 25 years for SNES games that came out in 1993. Meanwhile, Arkanoid: Doh It Again just turned 20. Released just in time for the Christmas season of 1997, Arkanoid is one of the last SNES games to come out in North America. Most gamers had long migrated to the PlayStation or N64 by then, but loyal SNES owners were treated to a nice update of an old classic title.
RECLAIMING THE RELICS OF MY YOUTH
Many of us who got back into classic gaming at some point I think fondly remembers that feeling of getting back into the fandom for the first time in ages. I’ll never forget that first quarter of 2006. The SNES bug bit me hard and on many early Saturday mornings I would wake up at the butt crack of dawn, hop into my car and drive down many windy roads in search of local flea markets. With a list of wants in the hundreds and a pocket full of dead presidents, it was a winning formula for always going back home with at least something. I met many vendors in my time, most memorable of all being “Mr. Mean.” He had tons of Super Nintendo games but they were way overpriced and he was generally a miserable grouch (hence the nickname). One day I saw Arkanoid and felt my heart leaping for joy. Mr. Mean quickly shattered that when he gave me a ridiculous price quote. I walked away feeling a tad discouraged. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish…
Still, I kept my head up and continued happily exploring the rest of the flea market. At the 4th vendor I spotted Pac-Attack and *DUN DUN DUN* Arkanoid: Doh It Again. Funny how life can work in mysterious ways. I was denied Arkanoid just five minutes earlier by Mr. Mean, but here I was with another vendor who happened to have a copy of the same game as well. However, he was hesitant to sell Arkanoid off the bat.
“I don’t know… isn’t this game rare?” he asked, scratching his head.
“Yeah. I actually just saw it at the very last vendor.”
He examined the glossy game label long and hard, squinting even. He studied the Easter Island statue with burning intensity. Finally he looked back up. “Alright, I trust you… $5 it is then. With the Pac-Man game it’ll be $10.”
In your face, Mr. Mean! Ah, ARKANOID. I have some fond memories of playing the game on my computer in the late ’90s when my bro and I first discovered emulation. Kevin and I had already donated our SNES to our cousin David by the time my brother found out about roms and such. I remember it well; I was a sophomore in high school at the tail end of the ’90s, walking home from school one day talking with a buddy about my brother’s discovery the night before. This was how I first experienced Arkanoid: Doh It Again. I was taken aback by its simple and addictive gameplay. Fast forward to that day in 2006 at the flea market, things came full circle some 7-8 years later when I finally bought Arkanoid at long last.
THE STORY GOES…
Commander Therle searches for a home but Doh blocks him. Doh is a heinous intergalactic entity hellbent on causing contamination and utter destruction.
Sending out a scout ship to analyze the surroundings, the sentient being Doh immediately springs into action.
It reminds me fondly of the Easter Island heads I grew up seeing in the Gradius games and Godzilla movies.
Rocking that Mode 7 to the very bitter end, eh?
Barriers can be a true lifesaver as can the “Viagra” power-up. Touch the blue capsule and watch your ship grow!
There’s a limit to how long it can grow but at its max, it can cover damn near one half the playing field! Nice.
Another awesome power-up, this capsule shoots out eight balls. Brings new meaning to the term, “Balls to the walls,” no?
So pass it cross the table like ping pong.
I’m gone, beating my chest like King Kong.
And when it comes to get another stogie…
fools all kick in like Shinobi. I GOT 5 ON IT!
Arkanoid: Doh It Again throws a boss at you every once in a while. This is a nice break from the norm and helps to add some much needed variety to freshen things up.
Backgrounds change every 11 levels. The backgrounds are well done and add a certain atmosphere to the game. I particularly like the one with the humans traveling in space.
Boss fights are the best part of this game. It adds a fresh feel to an old formula. They’re very much welcomed, indeed.
TABLE FOR TWO, PLEASE
Arkanoid is pretty fun on your own but it really shines when playing with a buddy. There are three different 2 player modes. Game A has you and a bud alternating turns. Game C pits both players against the same map and the first to clear said map is declared victorious. But Game B is clearly the bread winner. Team up with a friend in some awesome co-op action. Player 2 plays behind you and can swat away any ball player 1 misses. You switch places for each level. This is incredibly fun and one of the better 2 player co-op experiences on the SNES.
This is so true. I’ve played this mode with my sister in law and my girlfriend. Both of them are casual game players and don’t go out of their way to play games as a solo hobby. But they both loved playing this game. It’s perfect to play with a friend or significant other who isn’t into video games. It’s so simple and fun that anyone can play this and have a good time.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
December 1997. EGM issue #102 (January 1998) arrived in my mailbox. We were in the thick of the 32-bit era as you can see from the cover. Resident Evil 2 was the big title at the time. Yet in the back of the magazine, in the reviews section, I saw something that caught my eye. There was a Super Nintendo game being reviewed! It had been forever since EGM last reviewed a Super Nintendo game. Fun trivia tip: Arkanoid was the last SNES game EGM ever reviewed. It received scores of 7.0, 7.5, 8.0 and 8.5. Very respectable scores indeed. My brother and I were both out of the Super Nintendo scene by then but still, I remember being happy seeing the review. It was like seeing a dear old friend again after so many years and finding out that life had been good to them.
There’s something cool and soothing about Arkanoid: Doh It Again. Maybe it’s the contrasting combination of retro gaming goodness spliced with futuristic ambience. Or maybe it’s the awesome and addictive co-op 2 player mode that is instantly accessible to all. It’s probably all of that and then some. The graphics won’t wow anyone but they get the job done, although on some stages it can get tough at times to make out the ball due to the background. Some of the tunes fit well like a glove and there’s nothing like the sound of your ball bouncing off of a bad guy. The game has a timeless quality to it. Whenever the latest game lets me down, I know Arkanoid will always be there ready to whisk me to a far away world where lasers thrive and Easter Island heads rule.
Several years ago my sister in law wanted to sample one of my Super Nintendo games. She’s not much of a gamer at all, mind you. I mulled over my collection trying to select just the right 2 player experience that she might enjoy. It was an instant no-brainer the second my eyes landed on Arkanoid. As soon as we set up the 2 player co-op mode, we were both talking trash at the TV, high-fiving each other and shouting at every missed ball and subsequent second player save. It quickly dawned on me then and there that Arkanoid: Doh It Again presents one of the best 2 player experiences on the SNES. More recently, I’ve introduced this game to my girlfriend and she too digs the co-op mode. Sadly, because it came out so late in the system’s life, Arkanoid is something of an unsung gem in the SNES library. It’s one of those rare special games that anyone can pick up and play whether they’re 8 or 80. Not to mention have a blast along the way. As such, Arkanoid is definitely deserving of a spot in any SNES collection.