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a game by Taito
Genre: Arcade Classics
Platform: NESNES
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 3 reviews
User Rating: 8.4/10 - 5 votes
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See also: Arcade Games
  • Manufacturer: Taito
  • Machine: Nintendo Entertainment System

Breakout-type games have long been popular, and over the past few years this "block-busting" game theme has been continually updated. Arkanoid is the result of this evolution, adding many new twists to significantly change the game's strategy and play.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Breakout-type games (all two of you), the object is to use a small ball to knock out the blocks of a wall, using a player-controlled paddle located at the bottom of the screen. When the ball hits the paddle, it bounces back up the screen, and any of the colored blocks it hits will be removed from the display. In this way you attempt to clear all of the blocks and advance to the next level.

Like all video games these days, Arkanoid's manual insists on supplying the player with a game scenario: it seems that a planet has been destroyed by a horde of alien invaders, and the survivors of the attack made their getaway in a ship named Arkanoid. Arkanoid was then also attacked, forcing the survivors to escape again in a "Vaus" spacecraft. Now they are trapped in a labyrinth of colored walls and must blast their way to safety.

One of the enhancements to the old Breakout theme that you'll find in Arkanoid is the colored capsules that are occasionally released from the blocks when you hit them. There are seven different types of capsules, and if you catch one, it'll give your paddle extra powers. Among these are capsules that widen the paddle, give a free life or let you warp to the next screen.

The power capsules add a lot of strategy to the game. Trying to catch the capsules means taking a chance on missing the ball. Also, each time you touch one, although you gain a new power, you lose the power that you already had.

As if keeping the ball in action wasn't hard enough, you must also be on the lookout for obstacles that float down from the top of the screen. When you hit the obstacles, they are removed from the display, but because they are always moving, they may deflect the ball in an unexpected direction. The closer the obstacles get, the harder it will be to keep the ball in play. Because Arkanoid requires lightning-fast responses, the game comes with a special controller. Unlike the standard Nintendo controllers, this special controller has a rotating knob that allows you to almost instantly place the paddle in any position. The fast response time of this special controller allows you to zip to one side of the screen to catch a capsule and zip back to the other side to return the ball - all as quickly as you can twist the knob.

Arkanoid can, however, be played with the standard Nintendo control pad, which changes the game's strategy significantly. Because the directional pad moves the paddle much more slowly, you have to "predict" where the ball will come down so that you'll be there to return it.

If you were a fan of Breakout, you'll love Arkanoid. It's a classic game brought up to state-of-the-art form.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • P-200, 32 MB RAM

Game Reviews

  • Manufacturer: Taito
  • Machine: NES

Though the instruction booklet for this popular NES game tells you how to select up to Level 16, Greg Beaton of St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada, says you can continue further (with his help, of course). If you hold A, B and START while hitting SELECT five times, you can continue from the last level you were on Good job, Greg.

  • Manufacturer: Taito, Discovery Software
  • Machine: NES, C-64, IBM PC, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Amiga, Macintosh

Strategy Guide:

Round 1: The game starts with an easy level to get you warmed up. Most people choose to chip away at one side, then put the ball up to the top. The only danger is that the ball speeds up after it hits the top edge repeatedly. You'll find a helpful strategy is to eliminate the lowest rows, and then work your way towards the top.

Round 2: Like Round 1, the temptation is to take out of the solitary single block at the right, but a better strategy is to cut away at the larger bulk at the left. The single block always releases a capsule if it's hit first, and seeing what kind of weapon you get here will help decide your strategy; for example, lasers are great to clear the left-side blocks while the ball is slowly chipping away above.

Round 3: You're at perhaps the hardest level of the game. It'll be necessary to angle the ball steeply - a nervous shot for novices - by hitting it at the very tip of the paddle. Take any capsule except "D" during the early stages of this level, until you get the ball at the very top; at that point, Dispersion helps you finish. Also, when you get the ball into the "channel", don't move your paddle unless you have to: the ball may come down at the same angle, giving you an easy shot back up.

Round 4: To make things more difficult here, the background is very hard on the eyes; and, to make it worse, it returns every fourth level. Other than that, this scene is fairly straightforward. Be on your toes: the lower bricks; when hit, toss the ball back at you quickly, and often at different angles. If you get Lasers, you'll be on to the next level in no time!

Round 5: The hardest part about this level is the large quantity of silver bricks; because it takes two hits to get rid of each one. Don't worry, it will get worse.

Also, there are few capsules that can be sprung free; because the designers only provided ten colored bricks. Concentrating on the middle of the Space Invaders - like creature is the safest strategy.

Round 6: This scene looks easy because of all the open spaces, but the gold bricks make it almost impossible to accurately angle the ball to hit a specific brick. To start, you should concentrate on clearing a row on one of the sides. After that you're on your own. As we said in the general notes, getting the Catch capsule is extremely helpful in putting the ball where you want.

Round 7: We're back to a fairly simple level, with only one clump of bricks to get. To offset it, though, the ball starts off by moving a little faster than normal. By now you should be getting the hang of angling the ball and keeping it in play. If so, you'll have no trouble with this level.

Round 8: Only seven bricks to get here - sounds pretty easy, huh? Unfortunately these bricks are right in the middle of a ton of gold bricks, which helps turn your game into an out-of-control pinball machine. If you can, you should start by bouncing the ball through the middle to get the center column of bricks. Persistence is needed to get the last one or two, because the ball will end up going 100 mph before you're done. The Dispersion capsule will help in this level.

Round 9: The center section is very easy, but the two pairs of colored blocks that are cradled in gold are hard to clear. The angle to get the ball up there is difficult, but the toughest hurdle is getting the ball by the creatures. They seem to hover around the brick you hope to bop. Getting those four bricks early, before the ball picks up a head of steam, is certainly the best plan.

Round 10: This is the start of a tough trio of levels, though not as bad on computer versions. If you don't angle the ball into the corridor steeply, it will come right back at you faster than it started. Start the level by releasing the ball with your paddle under the fourth block from the left, then hit it at the extreme left of the paddle, and you should be able to get the ball trapped in the chamber. Once trapped, a Dispersion capsule will quickly move you on.

Round 11: Have your vision checked before attempting this one. Being composed of all silver bricks - which need three hits each to disappear - this level gives you no opportunity for capsules, and also speeds the ball up quickly. No special strategy is suggested, but you will need to be good with moving the Vaus so you can keep up with the path the ball takes.

Round 12: If Round 10 wasn't enough of a nightmare, this level will make you want to quit. Similar to Round 10, you'll need to angle the ball steeply to get the ball into the gold-brick pathway. If you place your paddle between the third and fourth bricks from the left, release the ball, then bat the ball with the left tip of the paddle. You should be on your way. Should you leave a few blocks after the ball passes through, it will likely exit towards you like a rifle shot.

Round 13: As congratulations for getting past those last three scenes, you are rewarded with a reasonably calm round to work through. Don't let down because of the simplicity - the pace won't stay light for very long. Just the same, you should have no trouble finishing the level and moving on.

Round 14: This is a little harder than the last, but still no tough test of talent. If you can poke a hole in a row of bricks and get the ball going at a steep angle, you might be able to clear most of a row by getting the ball trapped. The main obstacle is clearing the blocks that sit between the gold bricks. As we noted before, the Catch capsule is particularly helpful to shoot the ball at the proper angle.

Round 15: While this level contains no extraordinary challenge, there are more bricks to break than any other screen in the game. With a good quantity of those blocks being silver, you'll be busy for a while. Lasers are a perfect weapon, though accumulating Slow capsules will allow you to play out the round longer. Again, persistence is the key.

Round 16: Could it be that the designers are letting us off the hook by giving us easier levels? Perhaps, but the effect of gold bricks on the ball gets tougher with each round: the longer the ball is in play, the harder it is to deal with the increased speed. If you can keep the ball to the sides, you'll be safer. The level is fairly tame, except for the background, so don't fret. Your opportunity to stress out will come again later.

Round 17: While this round appears easy, it is harder than it looks because of the blocking effect of the gold bricks in the "umbrella's" hooked handle. If the ball doesn't get too fast for you to keep up with, you'll have no trouble here - guess the designers are trying to give you a false sense of security before they slam you back to reality.

Hitting the ball at the tip of the paddle assures that the gold bricks won't hinder your progress as much.

Round 18: Now we're starting to get back to the difficulty you expect from Arkanoid. There is a single silver brick that you should get out of your hair before things get too quick. After that, concentrate on the row along either the left or right edge, and work from the top down. You'll find yourself losing a Vaus or two on this scene, unless you are a top-notch player or extremely lucky! The computer version has an added row in the center, but it shouldn't alter your strategy much.

Round 19: Here's another that is tougher than it looks. The gold bricks that surround the breakable bricks will make lasers useless. The only way around this stage is to angle the ball behind the gold blocks. The creatures that drop down from the top will also get in your way a great deal. On the computer version, there is a single breakable brick in the center line of gold. This adds further frustration, as that block is incredibly hard to knock out; but it does allow travel between sections.

Round 20: As with Round 8, the quantity of gold in this scene makes accurate shots almost impossible. Particularly at the latter stages of this level, when the ball is traveling beyond the speed of light, the only thing you can do is keep the ball in the playfield and headed in the general direction of your remaining breakable bricks. Good luck - you'll need it!

Round 21: Our most common tip is to get the ball going where you need to before it speeds up out of control; Round 21 is a perfect example of this. Getting the ball up to the top is not as easy as you'd think, and the creatures keep getting in your way to add to the frustration. Once you clear the top row, popping the inside block of bricks is equally tough. The computer version has an added row of bricks to block you off from the center section, though you are better able to steer the ball where you want.

Round 22: Thankfully, a reasonably easy level is provided after the Round 21 struggle. Though it is tough to get the last few bricks -unless you have the Catch capsule - you should cut through this scene without much ado. Rejoice in the fact that there are no silver bricks, and the few clumps of gold bricks don't cause big problems either.

Round 23: Inside each silver "island" is a colored brick that will release a capsule - unless a capsule is already falling. The scene isn't too hard in itself, but because each silver brick must be hit three times, it will take a lot of time to get wipe out each brick. Because it takes so long, the ball speed will be the death of you, so take every Slow capsule you see! The computer version has one added island.

Round 24: Well, that nasty background is back; but the designers have offered another lightweight scene with no silver blocks, so you shouldn't have any trouble forging ahead. Working away at the center of the brickwork will keep the ball moving at a reasonable pace and under your control.

Round 25: If you slept through that last level, it's time to wake up. First you must break through a set of silver blocks, but concentrate on keeping the ball in the same path for the best control. Once you get it in the first cavity, you need to keep it up there to cut through the center logjam of silver blocks. Of course, when you get to that point, the ball is moving like a BB around the screen. The only advice is to minimize contact with the gold bricks, which is a near impossibility.

Round 26: Another "this doesn't look rough" screen. Unfortunately the silver bricks slow your progress into the gold-block enclosure. Shallow angles are necessary to succeed, but working the ball over the top of the gold ring is the hardest task. Starting about one paddle length from the right side and releasing the ball is the best start. Don't think the little beasties will help, because all they'll do is mess up your angles.

Round 27: By now any silver bricks have become more of a pain than they were at the start, because they require more hits to disappear. Again, the steep angles are a plus, because skimming the ball between the rows will rapidly chip away at the blocks - and without as much effort from you. If you've gotten through some of the other tough screens to this level, you won't find any difficulty with this scene.

Round 28: If you don't get a Catch capsule, or aren't very good at angle shots, you might as well give up now. This is another game-breaker level, especially adding the horrendous background to your woes. Try to blast the hole through the center first, then work away at one of the side columns. The gold bricks are situated as to almost always be in your way.

Round 29: This is a hard one to diagnose: if you go right up top at the start, you'll likely clear the few bricks up there, but the ball will also get trapped for a period and speed up.

If you stick to the lower bricks, the time it takes to clear all of them will also speed up the ball, making the center chute hard to get into. The latter method is my choice because you have more opportunity for helpful capsules. The computer version has a single colored brick in each section so you can pass between the gold rows.

Round 30: Almost finished, gang - particularly the computer gamers. Only five gold blocks to get in your way, but that is what they will do! Chipping away at a single silver brick, then trying to trap it at the top is recommended for this level, even though I've discouraged it up until now. The hardest part is getting rid of the last couple of blocks, especially the now-annoying silver ones.

Round 31: There is a capsule in each colored brick here, except if one is already falling, so you should have your choice of tools to complete this round. The ball will get trapped in the little cells, clearing mass amounts of bricks while you watch. But when it exits towards you, it'll have gained a full head of steam. As we noted, don't stray with your paddle much and you won't have to move far to rebound the ball into the pack.

Round 32: Gold-brick city! As with Rounds 8 and 20, the bricks inside the little spaces between the gold blocks are tough to negotiate. It's not hard to predict that you'll end up with just one block left to get, and the ball cruising at warp speed. Thankfully there aren't too many bricks to get, but you'll no doubt lose a few Vaus paddles before the level is cleared. You'll almost have to rely on luck, as skill won't do the whole job.

Round 33: Computer owners must be saying, "What is this picture you're showing us? This isn't on my screen!" Here is where the NES version deviates from the arcade game, and though it's not documented in the instruction booklet, the cartridge contains 36 screens; Rounds 33, 34 and 35 are extras. And this is a straightforward level, with not too much to do except keep it in play.

Round 34: Here's another bonus screen, and it doesn't pose too much of an obstacle to your progress. Start off by eliminating the lowest set of bricks and work your way up toward the top. There are only five gold bricks, but they might as well not be in the picture because they won't get in your way too often. Hey, we're almost finished!

Round 35: This is the last round before we face the evil Doh, and again you can take it easy. The way that the gold blocks are situated will keep the ball in action, so putting it up top won't be as bad as previous levels. In fact, it's easier for you to let the game do the work, seeing that you can poke a hole in the lower bricks, place the ball above; and the action of the ball will chip away from the top down.

Round 36: You've made it to the confrontation with the fortress Doh. Frequently, Doh will toss lethal bolts that head toward where you are located at the time. The best way to avoid them is to hover at the opposite wall from where you are going to receive the ball, which serves to draw the bolts away you are going to play. Also, getting the ball to travel at a steep angle will strike Doh more frequently. Even if you succeed, the final screen portends more to come.

General Hints:

  1. As always, the game's design is to get you to lose as soon as it can; your strategy should be to stay alive as long as you can. For this reason, don't try anything too dangerous, such as going for a capsule when the ball is dropping at the other side of the screen. Always go for the safest move.
  2. Generally, keeping the ball from going up to the top of the screen until later in the level will keep things from speeding up too quickly. Certain levels go against this advice, and we've noted those.
  3. The Catch capsule is much more useful than you'd expect. Seeing that some of the screens require precision angling, grabbing the ball with a sticky paddle lets you bring the ball to a specific location for release.
  4. My vote for the least productive capsule is Dispersion, which divides the ball into three projectiles. The first negative is that no other capsules will be released while you have multiple balls. Secondly, the ball speed will increase much quicker than normal, leaving you in a worse situation as far as ball control goes. Lastly, it's hard to decide which of the three balls to concentrate on with the paddle. The best choice is to pick one to keep your eye on (unless you have slowed the action) and ignore the others. Trying to keep all three in play will result in having none in play. The only time Dispersion is helpful is if the ball is trapped in a thin corridor or when there are one or two straggling bricks that you are having trouble getting.

Snapshots and Media

NES/Famicom/Dendy Screenshots

See Also

Viewing games 1 to 2
Arkanoid Returns
It's been over 10 years since U.S. gamers have gotten a new home version of Arkanoid, but in Japan the series has lived on, and the latest incarnation, Arkanoid Returns, is now available for the PlayStation in Japan.