Arkanoid vs Space Invaders (AvSI) is one of those mashups that nobody ever put together until somebody finally did. Peanut butter and chocolate, tomato and clam juice, Clamato and beer, and finally Arkanoid and Space Invaders; what a time to be alive! For those unfamiliar with these two games, the former (Arkanoid) is essentially breakout with power-ups and fiendish level design while Space Invaders is, well, Space Invaders. Shoot the aliens as they inexorably march across your screen, advancing ever closer as you try to dodge their bullets and take them out one-at-a-time with your agonizingly slow single-shot cannon.
In AvSI, instead of dodging enemy shots and returning fire, your paddle (called a Vaus) is able deflect enemy bolts back to their source. Deflect enough of them and you will trigger a special mode to freeze the clock and do extra damage. The aliens are hiding behind rows of bricks, some of which require repeated shots to destroy, and that are completely indestructible. There are also enhancements that drop in the form of capsules. There are so many things dropping that you would think that you would be unable to snag everything. Thankfully, the touch interface of your iOS device is just about the quickest, most accurate interface possible for a game like this. You are also able to move your Vaus vertically as well as horizontally so sound strategic positioning and planning will really help here.
The early levels are pretty straightforward, and can be beaten with nothing but quick reflexes. Thankfully, this doesn't last long (if it did, we'd all be bored of it). Soon, you'll be failing/studying/repeating levels to figure out the strategy necessary to win. In nearly every case, it will take both reflexes and precision to prevail. Every level is unique, balanced, and absolutely winnable. While there are power-ups available for purchase with in-game gold, AvSI chose to go against the overwhelming tide of the App Store and NOT offer micro-transactions of any kind. Don't have enough gold to buy that power-up? Keep practicing because there is no way to buy your way out of a tough level here. So refreshing...
There is quite a bit of backstory in AvSI, and it is all offered as readable text between levels. There is spoken dialogue to go with it but it is in Japanese so most of us will need to find our reading glasses. Although I don't have the patience to read game lore, I really enjoyed the Japanese dialogue quite a bit. I couldn't understand it, of course, but It really added to the anime atmosphere, and fit the game perfectly.
Music and sound effects are quite a mixed bag. For music, there's the techno-pop soundtrack in the background with the signature Arkanoid 8-note intro tune playing at the beginning of each level. Why no Space Invaders musical homage? The original arcade game came out in 1978, and didn't have any. The sound effects make up for it, though, with the old familiar alternating low/high tones and the weapon sounds from arcade machine (appropriately enhanced for modern hardware). Of course, the Arkanoid sounds are all there, as well.
Fans of the original games will obviously enjoy the unexpectedly fun combo here. However, even if you've never heard of Space Invaders or Arkanoid, I can easily recommend this game if you have even the slightest interest in the genre.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Silky smooth animation and subtly updated retro graphics make this a graphically solid game. The anime theme suits the game perfectly. Sound: - 4 - Reimagined sounds from both franchises expertly woven into a modern soundtrack. Controls: - 5 - A game like this is at its best with a touchscreen. Gameplay: - 4 - A highly enjoyable mashup of two classic franchises.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Always return your Vaus to its highest possible point on the screen. This will give you extra maneuverability when dropping objects seek to overwhelm your defenses. Resist the urge to spend your gold in the early game. Save it so you can buy power-ups when you really need them. Try not to let any shots get by you. Levels can be replayed as often as you like.