Beyond Co-op Review: Arkanoid – Eternal Battle
Review by: Paul Acevedo
Eternal Battle Mode
Taito’s Arkanoid series of brick-breaking games began in arcades and has spawned numerous ports and sequels. Up until recently, the last new entry was Arkanoid Vs. Space Invaders, which debuted on mobile before its inclusion in the Space Invaders Forever and Space Invaders Invincible Collection compilations on consoles. Now, French developer and Pastagames (developer of Pang Adventures) and Microids have crafted their own unique sequel called Arkanoid – Eternal Battle. Although a Taito-developed sequel might have been preferable in some ways, the benefit to Microids publishing this one is that Eternal Battle is available on all platforms, not just PlayStation and Switch.
Eternal Battle is a traditional Arkanoid-style brick breaking game. The player’s paddle is a ship called the ReVaus (as opposed to the traditional Vaus). While bouncing a ball around each level, the objective is to destroy all breakable bricks. Enemies spawn at regular intervals, but they can’t actually harm the player in any real way. Broken blocks occasionally drop one of a variety of power-ups that can be used for a limited time, until the player picks up a different power-up, or until the player misses the ball and loses a life.
While the gameplay is traditional by series standards, it’s important to note that the game is played with the analog stick of a controller. The developers have showcased a custom paddle controller like the original arcade games used, but that controller isn’t available to consumers. The game offers five speed settings for ship movement, but none of the speeds fully match the paddle’s ability to make both fine and fast movements. The trigger buttons move the ReVaus to the left or right sides of the field almost instantly. This can be helpful sometimes, but I’d have preferred a speed-up button instead.
This Arkanoid features four game types:
- Neo: A new campaign experience consisting of 45 levels. This would be a welcome addition to pantheon of Arkanoid campaigns if not for the poor level design. The levels get really tough really quickly. They often put bricks way too low on the field (giving players precious little time to react when the ball hits those bricks) and seem to rely on lucky power-ups (which spawn too infrequently) to clear. I got stuck on Level 19 for an hour and lost interest in the game, sadly. “Neo” offers no save option either, so be prepared to tackle the whole campaign in one go if you’re brave enough to attempt it.
- Eternal Battle: This titular mode is a 25-player battle royale in which everyone progresses through a series of levels while trying to stay alive and maintain a high score. The player with the lowest score gets periodically eliminated until only a few players remain. Once that happens, the last few players engage in a way-too-difficult boss battle against Doh, the recurring series villain. You can only win by defeating Doh – being the last player standing counts for nothing, sadly.
Other than the obnoxious final boss element, “Eternal Battle” could have been a great large-scale multiplayer experience. Unfortunately, the multiplayer community seems to be dead on Xbox. The game will sub in AI players, so everyone can still experience “Eternal Battle” mode. Still, it’s a shame that so few people will get the full battle royale experience against live gamers.
- Versus: This 1-4 player competitive mode consists of five rounds. During each round, the goal is to clear the screen of blocks before everyone else. Some regular items appear (though not the laser), including a new item that attacks other players with a random effect. The main player can add AI opponents to Versus mode, but there are no options to adjust the AI difficulty, the length of the game, or anything else. Otherwise, it’s a fun mode.
- Retro: This mode consists of the original Arkanoid arcade game with absolutely no enhancements. It offers no display options, no save states, rewinding, or other standard emulation features. Sure, it’s nice to be able to play arcade Arkanoid at all, but the lack of effort put into this version is astounding.
As much as I love the series, Arkanoid – Eternal Battle lacks the polish and thought that you’d get from a genuine Taito game. The Neo and Eternal Battle modes, the meat of the game, are too difficult to be approachable, and Eternal Battle doesn’t even have the multiplayer community that should be a selling point. The lack of save features in Neo and Retro really hurt as well. Eternal Battle feels like one of those early XBLA titles that was created as a sequel to an established franchise but fails to capture the series magic. A little more polish and a lower price would have resulted in a worthier Arkanoid title.
Arkanoid – Eternal Battle sells for $29.99 on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and Steam.
Our Rating: 3 out of 5