Arkanoid[a] is a 1986 block breaker arcade game developed and published by Taito. In North America, it was published by Romstar. Controlling a paddle-like craft known as the Vaus, the player is tasked with clearing a formation of colorful blocks, accomplished by deflecting a ball towards it without letting the ball leave the playfield. Some blocks contain power-ups that have various effects on the player, such as increasing the length of the Vaus, creating several additional balls, or turning the Vaus into a laser cannon.

Arkanoid arcadeflyer.png
Promotional flyer
Designer(s)Akira Fujita
Hiroshi Tsujino
Composer(s)Hisayoshi Ogura
Platform(s)Arcade, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Atari 8-bit family, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Macintosh, MS-DOS, MSX, Nintendo Entertainment System, PC-88, PC-98, Thomson, TRS-80 Color Computer, ZX Spectrum,[1] iOS, Mobile phone
  • JP: July 1986
  • NA: 1986
Genre(s)Block breaker
Mode(s)Single-player, 2 player alternating

Created by Taito designers Akira Fujita and Hiroshi Tsujino, Arkanoid was made to expand on the block breaker concept established in Atari's Breakout, a successful game in its own right that was met with a large wave of similar clone games from other manufacturers. It was part of a contest within Taito, where two teams of designers had to complete a block breaker game and determine which one was superior to the other. The film Tron served as inspiration for the game's futuristic, neon aesthetic. Level designs were first sketched out on paper before being programmed and tested to make sure they were fun to play. The enemy and power-up designs were 3D models converted into sprite art.

Early location tests for Arkanoid proved to be successful and surpassed Taito's initial expectations. The game was commended by critics for its gameplay, simplicity, addictive nature and improvements over the original Breakout concept. The game helped revitalize the block-breaker genre and set the groundwork for many games to follow. Arkanoid was ported to many home video game platforms, including the Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, ZX Spectrum and mobile phones, and it spawned a long series of sequels and updates over the course of two decades.


Arcade screenshot

Arkanoid is a block breaker video game. Its plot involves the starship Arkanoid being attacked by a mysterious entity from space named DOH. A small paddle-shaped craft, the Vaus, is ejected from the ArkanoidIn Arkanoid, players maneuver a paddle-shaped craft named the Vaus along the bottom of the screen.

The player controls the "Vaus", a space vessel that acts as the game's "paddle" which prevents a ball from falling from the playing field, and attempts to bounce the ball against a number of bricks. The ball striking a brick causes the brick to disappear. When all the bricks are gone, the player advances to the next level, where another pattern of bricks appears. There are game variations (bricks that have to be hit multiple times, flying enemy ships, etc.) and power-up capsules to enhance the Vaus (expand the Vaus, multiply the number of balls, equip a laser cannon, break directly to the next level, etc.), but the gameplay remains the same.[2]

On the final stage (33 on most versions, but 36 on the NES), the player takes on the game's boss, "DOH", a head resembling moai.[3] Once this point is reached, the player no longer has the option to continue after running out of lives, making this segment more difficult. The game is over regardless of the outcome.

Development and releaseEdit

Arkanoid was designed by Akira Fujita and Hiroshi "ONIJIST" Tsujino, both of whom were members of Taito's Yokohama Research Institute.[4] The company's sales department requested a new block breaker arcade game due to the genre beginning to see an upturn in popularity, following a steady downfall in the early 1980s.[4] This led to a competition being held within the company to design the new game which was jointly won by Fujita and Tsujino, who were then instructed to combine their ideas into a single project.[4] The game builds on the overall block breaker concept established in Atari's Breakout, a widely-successful arcade game that spawned a long series of similar clone games by other manufacturers.[5]

The development team consisted of Fujita in charge of planning, with Tsujino providing level design and graphics and two others programming the arcade board,[4] a modified version of the Taito Classic hardware.[6] The neon, futuristic aesthetic was inspired by the film Tron (1982), which Tsujino was a big fan of.[4] Blocks originally never had colors and were simply the same color, which was changed to the minor annoyance of Tsujino.[4] The various geometric-like enemies and power-up items were hand-drawn from 3-dimensional models before being converted into sprite art.[4] Hisayoshi Ogura, the founder of Taito's "house band" Zuntata, created the game's music.[7]

The game had a short development time with tight work deadlines, a schedule which Tsujino has since claimed to be "murderous".[4] Location testing for the game began only a month after the start of development.[4] It was incredibly well-received by playtesters, and generated a lot more popularity and income than Taito had expected.[4] Arkanoid was officially released in Japan in July 1986, and in North America later that year by distributor company Romstar.[6]


Arkanoid was ported to the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, MSX, Atari 8-bit family, Apple II, NES, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIGS and IBM PC. A Macintosh version was released in 1987 and a port was released for the Tandy Color Computer 3 in 1989. Computer conversions were published by Imagine. The NES port was packaged with a custom controller.


Review scores
AllGame     [8]
CVG8/10 (Ami)[9]
87% (C64)[10]
84% (ZX)[11]
Dragon(Mac)     [12]
Génération 492% (Ami)[13]
The Games Machine[14]87% (C64)
86% (CPC)
89% (ST)
71% (ZX)
Gamest AwardsSilver Award[15]
Compute!Games of the Year[16]
Computer Gaming WorldBest Arcade Translation[17]

Arkanoid was a popular title in arcades, where it became one of Taito's most profitable coin-operated games. Game Machine listed it as being the most popular arcade game of August 1986 in Japan, while Euromax listed it as being the third most popular arcade game in Europe during 1987. Arkanoid and its home releases received several awards, including the "Silver Award" from Gamest,[15] "Games of the Year" from Compute!,[18] and "Best Arcade Translation" from Computer Gaming World.

In Europe, it was reviewed by Clare Edgeley in the December 1986 issue of Computer and Video Games, where she compared it to Pong and Space Invaders in its simplicity and addictiveness. She described Arkanoid as "a lovely game" that is "Fast, colourful, simple and addictive."[19]

The home versions were also well received. Computer Gaming World stated in 1988 that Arkanoid on the Amiga was "a perfect version of the arcade game ... incredible!"[20] It named the NES version the Best Arcade Translation for the console that year, praising the graphics and play mechanics.[17] The game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #144 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[12] Compute! named the game to its list of "nine great games for 1989", describing it as "hypnotic, addictive, and fascinating". Along with Breakout, the magazine noted Arkanoid also has elements of Pong and Space Invaders as well as Pac-Man in its use of power-ups.[16]

In 1997 Electronic Gaming Monthly editors ranked the NES version the 41st best console video game of all time, describing it as "the type of game that you'd pick up because you need a quick video game fix but would end up playing for hours." They particularly noted that despite the ability to shoot lasers, the game demanded a great deal of skill from the player.[21]


Arkanoid was followed by a number of direct and indirect sequels. Tournament Arkanoid [22] was released in 1987 exclusively in the United States by Romstar. Unlike the original game, it was developed by Taito America rather than Taito Japan. It is more of a mission-pack sequel than a true sequel, since it has the exact same gameplay as the original Arkanoid and only the levels are different. Revenge of Doh (Arkanoid 2) was released into arcades in 1987. Unlike Tournament Arkanoid, Revenge of Doh is a true sequel to the game with new gameplay mechanics. Arkanoid: Doh It Again and Arkanoid Returns were published in 1997, followed by Arkanoid DS in 2007,.[23]

An Xbox 360 version of Arkanoid was published as Arkanoid Live! on May 6, 2009 for Xbox Live Arcade.[24] A WiiWare version of Arkanoid, titled Arkanoid Plus!, was released in Japan on May 26, 2009, in PAL regions on August 21, 2009 and in North America on September 28, 2009.[25] A version of Arkanoid for iOS was released in 2009.[26]

The mashup Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders was released in 2017 for iOS and Android.


  1. ^ Japanese: アルカノイド Hepburn: Arukanoido


  1. ^ Carroll, Martyn. "Ultimate Guide: Arkanoid". Retro Gamer. No. 145. Imagine Publishing. pp. 37–39.
  2. ^ "Arkanoid The [Coin-Op] Arcade Video Game by Taito Corp. [Japan]". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 2014-09-19.
  3. ^ "Anime Super Famicom: Arkanoid: Doh It Again". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "【第6回リレーブログ クリエーター編】"ニンジャウォリアーズ"辻野様". BEEP!. October 29, 2019. Archived from the original on June 1, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  5. ^ Campbell, Stuart (August 2009). "The Definitive Arkanoid" (66). United Kingdom: Imagine Publishing. Retro Gamer. pp. 54–61. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Arkanoid - Videogame by Taito". Killer List of Videogames. The International Arcade Museum. Archived from the original on September 25, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  7. ^ Rancor. "Zuntata — 2009 Darius Odyssey Book Interview". Shmuplations. Archived from the original on December 30, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  8. ^ Alan Weiss, Brett (1998). "Arkanoid - Review". Allgame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  9. ^ "World of Spectrum - Magazines". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Arkanoid review from Computer + Video Games 102 (May 1990) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Arkanoid review from Computer + Video Games 102 (May 1990) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  12. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (April 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (144): 60–68.
  13. ^ "Arkanoid review from Génération 4 3 (Mar - Apr 1988) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  14. ^ "The Games Machine - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  15. ^ a b Gamest, The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, pp. 6-26
  16. ^ a b Gutman, Dan (July 1989). "Nine for '89". Compute!. p. 19. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  17. ^ a b Kunkel, Bill; Worley, Joyce; Katz, Arnie (November 1988). "Video Gaming World" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 53. p. 56. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  18. ^ Arcade Action, Computer and Video Games, December 1987
  19. ^ "Arkanoid arcade game review". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  20. ^ Wagner, Roy (February 1988). "Warped in Space!" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 44. p. 31. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  21. ^ "100 Best Games of All Time". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 100. Ziff Davis. November 1997. pp. 130, 134. Note: Contrary to the title, the intro to the article explicitly states that the list covers console video games only, meaning PC games and arcade games were not eligible.
  22. ^ Tournament Arkanoid at the Killer List of Videogames
  23. ^ "Arkanoid DS (Nintendo DS)". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  24. ^ and ivexboxlivearcade/ Arkanoid Live! Game Detail Page Archived May 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,
  25. ^ "Art Lessons, Auto Racing, and Arcade Action Multiply the Downloadable Fun". Nintendo of America. 28 September 2009. Archived from the original on 2 October 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2009.
  26. ^ "Taito's retro classic Arkanoid coming to iPhone". Steel Media Ltd. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2019.

External linksEdit