To me, 8 bits computers have something that marked deeply many of us forever. This is what a friend of mine, PookyII, tells about it:

I was about thirteen when I came back from the UK and saw the poster announcing Arkanoid (this was nearly 1987). I felt something that compelled me to buy the game, despite I didn’t know whether I was going to like it or not. Coincidentally, by that time, Spectrum games were being distributed by a company which made history: Erbe Software. They cut the prices of the games from 2.500 pts down to only 875 pts. (that’s about nowadays 5 €).

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Arkanoid From Arkanoid, everything impressed me: I quickly run to the shop to buy it, and from the sound of the ball bouncing against the bricks, to the story, everything thrilled me. We were used to be knights rescueing their princesses from the typical bad guy. But Arkanoid was slightly different. Something from this story really thrilled me and I wanted to finish the game. You play as Vaus, an escape pod which manages to get out safe and sound after its mothership was attacked and all the crew killed.

What could you do then? At first sight, only to avenge your killed friends… But no: the game proposes you to fight and defeat the
Dimension Organaizer Header (DOH) which controlles the time and dimensions to you could go back to the past and rescue your friends.

So your task consist in break the walls sorrounding and protecting DOH to defeat it. You have a little ball which bumps the wall bricks and bounces back. If you let the ball to run away, you lose a life.

This so basic approach completes with Power-ups, which allows us to enlarge our ship, to have several balls at once, to pick up the ball (so it gets still for a while), shot laser beams, escape that wall (to the next stage), win an extra life or slow the ball down.

At first the game si simple, since the ball is rather easy to control. But as the ball bounces over and over, it speeds up and it results in an adrenaline raising while your eyes try to follow it and your hands try to push the corresponding keys to reach it. Even more, the bouncing angle depends on wich part of the ship touches de ball, so sometimes you really have to struggle to drive to ball to the remaining bricks.

It’s an ADDICTIVE game, don’t know if the right word is funny, but for me, definitely, the word is THRILLING, because it is able to make speed up your heartbit like the best arcade games.

Moreover, some of the walls are actually mastery achitechtonic designs which mixes corridors in which the ball gets trapped among several unbreakable blocks. Once the ball gets out, it cames back at a really high speed and we’ll probably lose a life if we’re not focused enough.

Several years later, the sequel, Arkanoid II – Revenge of DOH, was released. It was a worthy successor, because it added many more levels and the possibility to choose whether we wanted to take the left or right path after each one (something like Out Run). It also had any player dream: The steel ball, which was able to break any brick along its way without bouncing back.

Imagine set very high standards with this sequel, and it was a worthy conversion of the Taito machine game by that time. No doubt, it enlightened the name of remakable Leyend: Arkanoid.

Wow! I was flabbergasted. So I wasn’t the only one among my friend to whom the 8 bits left a deep mark. Amazing. So I asked him some more questions:

  • Boriel: I take for granted you finished Arkanoid. Did you also finished Arkanoid II?
  • PookyII: Yes, I also did. But I think I used a “poke” that time. I remember a big heart at level 17 (some kind of “final boss”), and finally at 34, again DOH
  • Boriel: How did you felt when you finished Arkanoid?
  • PookyII: I think you’re meaning if I felt something like when playing “Final Fantasy”. No, I think it was euphoria. But the best of this game is you can keep playing for longer and longer, because finishing it didn’t mean you were to drop it into the ‘Chest of the Forgotten Games’. On the contrary, the thrilling of Arkanoid reached far beyond its “end”.
  • Boriel: And with Arkanoid II? Was it a similar experience?
  • PookyII: With the sequel I felt quite the same, even though several years had already passed. It was more like the satisfaction for having achieved the mission.
  • Boriel: What would you recommend to the people (specially from that time) who would like to give it a try? (e.g. into an emulator)
  • PookyII: I’d tell them to try to pass the first level. If they do, then they’re lost! 😉
  • Boriel: Another sensation, experience o memory about the game you would like to share?
  • Arkanoid IIPookyII: Yes, lots of nostalgia: I played (mainly Arkanoid II) with a tiny B/W TV as a monitor, and I didn’t miss a color TV or a bigger one. To me, the entertaining technology (since that time) was a way like no other to meet friends and have lots of fun. Sometimes because we did enjoy, others because we simply laught about the game animations and wit.
    I still remember a day four of us spent playing “PaperBoy”. One of use, controlled the fordward and backward movement. Another two guys controlled the left and the right, and I was in charge of throwing the newspapers. What an amazing evening…
    And my last mention goes for “Gauntlet”, a worthy multiplayer game. Rooms appeared and repeated at random, but that didn’t stop us from playing until very late at night and finally having to say goodbye to our host mother in a very tactful manner.

And you? Would you like to go back to the past?

  1. […] You already know for sure, maybe you read it on Slashdot o at Barrapunto (Spanish version). A day like today, 25 years ago, Speccy was born. It would make us to have nices times. […]

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  2. Bueno, no, en Spectrum no recuerdo hasta que nivel llegamos mis compañeros y yo, pero un amigo al que conocí años después tenía el mismo juego en un IBM AMSTRAD de 30 k de memoria, al que jugamos sin parar todos los días al Gauntlet, hasta llegar al nivel 100, de ahí no pasábamos (dichoso dragón).

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  3. ¿¿¿Yonnah, pero realmente había una planta número 100??? 😯

    Lo digo porque si llegaste a ver al dragón, algo de verdad tendría. Yo nunca lo vi. Y creo que llegué a terminar la cinta. Otra opción es jugarlo en el emulador… 😀 y ver qué pasa…

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  4. Nostálgicos!!!! ainssss 🙂

    Para mí fue inolvidable “Fairlight” buscar el libro de la luz me marcó para siempre, de lo que disfruté recorriendo aquel castillo. Los que me conocen saben perfectamente que ese estilo y esa atmósfera, fue la que he seguido buscando desde entonces.

    Muy bonito artículo “retro”
    saludos mis niños 🙂

    Pd: al principio me metía mucho con Boriel respecto a la “nostalgia” pero ahora estoy totalmente de acuerdo con él, cuando en una conversación puntualizó que básicamente buscamos ese cosquilleo que sentíamos y que actualmente anda mucho más escaso en el mundo lúdico e informático actual. Las sensaciones que nos producían estas maquinitas y su software en aquellos días, hoy son irrepetibles. La edad, supongo que es un factor importante.

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  5. Al arkanoid jugué pero a mi no me marcó tanto como el Gauntlet. Dios, ese juego era mi pesadilla, no podía dejar de viciarme, siempre llegaba la fase 100, una vez llegué a la 101 y de ahí no pasaba. Además, siempre tenía que estar atento, por si me mataba iniciar a otro jugador, ya que la vida era por tiempo. Cuando jugaba con equipos era más facil llegar al nivel 100, pero como ya dije, nunca llegué pasar de ese, un dichoso dragón siempre me fastidiaba xDDDDDDD

    Que buenos tiempos aquellos 😀 al final nunca averigué si tenía final el gauntlet, porque nunca llegue a pasar más del level 100 xD

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