It's Arkanoid! For the DS! Granted, it's looking a little perkier than it did in 1986 and features a varied soundtrack including some DDR-esque tunes, but it feels just like that same flavor of brick buster we've been playing for years-especially when you sit it next to something like Nervous Brickdown, which uses the paddle (or VAUS, for those following the space alien story line) shifting play mechanic to multiple entertaining effects for themed mini-games that play to the DS's stand-out characteristics.
What's heart-wrenching is that Arkanoid DS actually does have a really compelling DS stand-out characteristic tie-in... in Japan. They designed a paddle controller, basically a slick, shiny version of the arcade cabinet spinner knob, to be inserted into the GBA slot-a seriously clever peripheral. In Japan, it comes packed in with the game, and also works for the simultaneously released Space Invaders Extreme. I got to give it a whirl at last year's Tokyo Game Show, and novelty though it may be, the fancy controller really sets the experience apart.
So what's left for us? Arkanoid DS is certainly a polished product. Both the d-pad and stylus-based control systems are fine, and you don't really even notice the gap between the screens, since the ball is timed to appear as if it has moved smoothly through. The main game features alphabet lettered zones to clear in branching paths, which simultaneously unlocks quests in a different mode-things like clearing all of a certain color with a time limit. Some levels are a cinch with the right power-up — Megaball is always a good one, allowing you to sweep through any bricks in the balls path — but others require a dedicated amount of skill/luck/endurance. Dying with one block to go is such a classic forehead-smack feeling.
Up to four people can get in on multiplayer action, which reminds me a bit of multiplayer Tetris, the way one of the power-ups throws extra blocks up on your opponent's screens. Each player can choose their own input method, and the event comes in two flavours: Bust All (clear the level) or Bust Color (clear the blocks of one colour.)