Review: Arkanoid – Eternal Battle (Nintendo Switch)

Arkanoid – Eternal Battle is the latest in the quintessential block-breaker series,  but is it the greatest? Nope, although it is still fun.

The titular Eternal Battle is the primary mode in this entry, offering up to 25 players in online competition. Players get eliminated one by one until there’s only a single survivor. While the background display of various competitors can distract, this mode can be edge-of-your-seat fun, especially if you make it to the final four. It gives the game some legs for competitive types. But the online activity is pretty empty, unfortunately. I’ve only been able to get a few players in repeated attempts, with the rest being rounded out by computer AI. Such is the risk when your principal mode is tied to online play.

If sparse online proves a letdown, there’s a pair of single-player modes. Retro is the arcade game (minus paddle controls), while Neo is an updated version of said game. Unlike the Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders mode in Space Invaders Forever, there is no motion or touch controls to try to simulate the original. Maybe it’s the NES kid in me griping, but the Arkanoid NES special paddle controller was iconic. In any case, both are fun ways to pass some time, with Retro offering some nostalgia that’s sure to bring smiles. But there is a better mode in Eternal Battle.

Versus, for two-four players, is where it’s at. Altering the playfield of your competition with obscured views on unbreakable blocks doesn’t get old. “One more time” was a regular statement in the Gould household. Of course, I knew this mode would be fun, having played similar in the last proper Arkanoid game for a home console, Arkanoid Plus! (see our top 20 WiiWare games from PNM issue #37). And it’s memories of that version that make me realize how bare Eternal Battle is by comparison.

Expected options are in short supply in this new game. Difficulty and speed settings are MIA. Want the choice to play with a barrier or lives rules? That’s a no-go. How about deactivating enemy obstacles, which are admittedly more annoying than threatening? Sorry. Time mode or co-op? Again, nada. The latter is especially gutting, as Arkanoid makes for a surprisingly fun co-op experience. For $29.99, I expected more from Eternal Battle.

To be fair, it does have some perks. Audio settings, leaderboards, rumble, and unlockable skins are appreciated. And I didn’t run into any glitches, thankfully. Arkanoid is timeless, the popular Breakout beater with an interesting history that I respect. This version is decent; it just pales when compared to its predecessor. Even many other arcade updates on the Nintendo Switch offer more, with museums for a history tour or prior versions of games included.

 Arkanoid Eternal Battle is an approachable game that delivers some timeless fun. But much like Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, it’s another Taito arcade classic that’s taken one step forward, two steps back. It brings less content to the table while asking for more money from the players. With online being something of a ghost town, I suggest waiting for a price reduction.