Arkanoid Breakout - History of the Games

Arkanoid / Breakout games are a timeless classic and chances are that you have already played a variation of these games.

Over the 30+ years since the first Breakout game was created hundreds (perhaps thousands!) of variations of the game have been produced.

Arkanoid and Breakout Game-Play

In general, game-play is simple. The playfield consists of blocks at the top of the screen that must be destroyed. The player controls a paddle at the bottom of the screen that is used to hit a ball up to smash the blocks. If the player misses the ball and the ball passes the paddle heading toward the bottom of the screen the player loses a paddle. The game ends when all paddles have been "lost". The player advances to the next round after destroying all of the blocks. As with most games of the time, the objective was simply to survive as long as possible and build up as high a score as you could before "losing the game".

Now, let's take a quick look at the history of each game.


Breakout was originally released as an arcade game by Atari in 1976. The game was inspired by the arcade game Pong (released around 1972). Supposedly, the designers looked at Pong and wanted to turn it into a single-player game. Remember, the original Pong required two human players!

In 1976, Breakout was an extremely simple game by today's standards but was a brilliant game for that time.

Graphically, the game was very simple. The playfield consisted of rows of colored rectangles (blocks) arranged in rows across the top of the screen and a rectangle (paddle) controlled by the player at the bottom of the screen. A small square represented the ball that was used to destroy the blocks.

That description probably does not sound very exciting, right? At the time all of the color on the screen was impressive in itself. The screen was actually black and white but the designers used colored cellophane to color the blocks!

And, of course, the game was so simple to play but difficult to master so it had that very addictive quality few games manage to produce.


Although people talk about Arkanoid and Breakout as though they were completely seperate kinds of games, this is not the case.

Arkanoid was originally released as an arcade game by Taito in 1986. It was a "modern version" of the classic Atari Breakout game from 1976, upgraded to the technology of the mid 80s.

Arkanoid had a lot going for it. Advances over the original game were obvious at first glance. Instead of a black background, the game featured backgrounds composed of simple "tiles". The blocks were really in color on the game screen. Some blocks had to be hit more then one time to be destroyed and others were indestructable serving only to make it harder to destroy the other blocks.

In addition to these elements, Taito's game had a sci-fi space story behind the game. The name Ark-a-noid referred to a "mother ship" that was doomed to destruction. The player's paddle (caused the Vaus) was actually a small ship that had escaped from the Arkanoid before its destruction.

During the game, a few alien ships would enter the playfield from the top of the screen and fly around in the area between the top-most row of blocks and the top of the screen. Once a path was created by the player destroying blocks the aliens would fly down below the blocks where they served as obstacles to the ball.

Other improvements over the original Breakout included the appearance of Power-ups and greater influence over the ball by the paddle. Occasionally, when a block is destroyed a power-up is released that floats down the screen. If the player catches the power-up the paddle received the power such as growing in size, shrinking, ability to catch the ball, and even firing lasers!

The Vaus paddle could influence the direction of the ball's rebound depending on where the ball hit the paddle. I believe the movement of the paddle also influenced the speed and direction of the ball's rebound. It certainly seemed that way to me while playing the game.

Points to remember

I believe people talk about Arkanoid as if it was a different game because it was indeed a whole new class of the original game updated with the best in play mechanics and graphics offered by the mid 1980s.

Remember... Breakout was the original game that started it all!

If you'd like to play a really cool version of these games I recommend checking out this Arkanoid clone!

Related Pages

Arkanoid Games from Classic to Crazy!
Reviews of two modern but still classic Arkanoid games. Plus reviews of two modern and some might say Crazy! Arkanoid style games.

Break Out 30 Years and Counting
Break Out has entertained people for over 30 years. Learn more about this excellent classic game.

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