Arkanoid vs Space Invaders is an interesting mix of two classics that blends into something that's really fun to play - but can get pretty frustrating at times - with a good variety of gameplay elements and some light customization. The basic concept of the game is to move the Arkanoid paddle around to reflect Space Invader projectiles - and sometimes a ball - in order to accomplish different objectives. I did stop after a while because the game was asking too much from me and it was just an experience in futility at this point, but that was hours in and it was well worth my money.

While the game opened on a downloading screen - something that I don't really like because you're forced to wait before you can actually play - you're thrust into a few small tutorial levels where you learn about controlling your paddle ship - called the Vaus - in order to destroy Invaders. There are two modes of control, one that places the ship under your finger and the other that allows you to move it relatively to its position when you move your finger around. I preferred the second method. The game plays fairly well, you move around to reflect projectiles in order to destroy blocks, enemies, hit switches, etc. When you have built enough attack energy by reflecting things, you can launch a ball that bounces around.

You have limited time on each level and scarce time power-ups allow you to recover precious lost seconds. If you run out of time, you need to restart the level. When you're throwing a ball around, time is stopped so you can use that to your advantage. Besides time power-ups, you can get coins, attack capsules that boost the energy gauge and skill capsules that unleash a character-specific skill. Some of them are simple like firing missiles from your ship, others are more complex, like a friendly UFO that patrols the top of the screen and shoots projectiles at you for you to reflect around. I felt that most of them weren't that great because they were extremely situational. A skill that gives you multiple balls seems cool, but it only works if you pick it up when you're close to launching the ball in question, for instance.

To recruit new characters, you need to unlock them by completing specific levels and then you pay some coins to add them to your roster. Completing stages net you a few coins and you get more depending on combo hits you've performed. You also get some coins when you lose, but the UI is weird in that case, you have a 'retry' button and a 'back to map' button but they both bring you back to the map, so you need to watch two loading screens and click on some buttons to retry a level. They get really hard after a while, so this is a bit of a barrier to try again constantly. The basic levels have you destroy Invaders by reflecting their projectiles at them and sometimes you can use the ball. After a while they add silver blocks and invaders that need multiple projectiles. There are also golden blocks that completely block all attacks. I wish that the golden blocks wouldn't completely destroy reflected shots and would instead just bounce them back, it would make the game less frustrating.

And that's what where I stopped, the levels became really complicated after a while and you needed to have superb luck getting all shots in very specific spots on the map to have a chance to win. There are power-ups that you can buy using coins (such as having a larger paddle, having the ball last longer and getting an extra ball attack before running out of time) but these upgrades are a bit expensive and some of them won't help for the really difficult stuff. I understand that the game couldn't always be a fun ride where you blast through stuff forever, but these later stages are just too much for me.

I still really liked Arkanoid vs Space Invaders! It's a premium app without microtransactions and it has solid gameplay. I just wish that it was a bit easier. I haven't even touched on the harder levels that unlock when you complete a world. These stages add a time penalty when you fail to reflect projectiles and enemies shoot projectiles that stun you as well. I couldn't see how I would finish those!

AuthorJérémie Tessier