Krakout / Gremlin Graphics 1987
Screenshots: play/stop

Gremlin Graphics had made a name for itself by producing such games as Thing on a Spring and Monty on the Run; and when Krakout came out, their reputation was made even more solid.

Here's how you make Krakout: basically, take a Breakout clone - preferably Arkanoid - and turn it on it's side, and you've just about described it! You control a bat on one side of the screen (which is user-adjustable), and the objective is to use this bat to bounce a ball around, hitting various blocks. Once all of the blocks have disappeared, you move onto the next level. If you miss a ball and it disappears off the screen, you lose a life.

That's the basic gameplan, and it sounds like it could get boring quickly. Thankfully, there are other ideas mixed into the game. For instance, when certain blocks are hit, they turn into rewards, basically, a block with a letter on top. If they are hit, you are rewarded a Power-Up that corresponds to that reward. For example, the "G" will give you Grab power, which allows you to catch the ball and then use fire to launch it (good for aiming the ball better).

Of course, there are various challenges in the game, too. On some levels, there are aliens that will appear and try and hinder your progress. Bees, for instance, sting and freeze your bat if they touch you. Any alien that hits your ball is killed, but your ball usually bounces off at a weird angle, and can catch you out.

To provide aural input while the game is playing, you can listen to the sound effects, or a random selection of three tracks, provided by Ben Daglish. The music suits the game beautifully; all three being up-beat bouncy tracks to go with the bouncy game.

The graphics, while not the best seen on the C64, serve their purpose. They're big and chunky, which really blends in with the overall feel of the game, and the colored blocks deter you from the fact that the multicolor settings are rather gray. But you don't really have much time to criticise the graphics themselves; as the ball bounces around the screen you have to follow it with your eyes all the time.

The option screen is great, too; you can choose which side your bat is on, how many lives you have, the speed of the ball and different screen modes.

All in all, Krakout is an excellent Arkanoid clone, although it's a little unfair to call it a clone exactly. The dynamics of the ball are different, the power-ups are different and more far-ranging, and it's made more fun with Ben's music bouncing around in the background. Krakout is a fun little game that will have you firing up your real C64 or favorite emulator just for one little go - and staying on for hours!

Reviewed by Boz.

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