Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Batty'

Rating:4 User: dm_boozefreek

Batty! Rasclaat! Bumba......Oh hang on? What? Oh not that kind of Batty then?

OK then Batty, by Elite Software, as in Bat and Ball, not Pidgin' English, or Patois for arse then? It's a Breakout Clone would you believe, released the same year as another pretty popular Breakout Clone. The debate is that some say it's actually better than that Breakout Clone? Is it? Maybe?

OK it's Arkanoid, but you all knew it was Arkanoid didn't you! Anyway Elite's Batty does tick all the right boxes to actually be a superior product to Imagine's Arkanoid, but you know how good ideas can be? Sometimes the execution can be a little poor, and innovation doesn't always make for a big success. Sometimes it requires tweaking, honing, dedication.

Anyway Batty is quite well presented, there's no story as such, just use your bat to smack the ball at the bricks and break them. Even though the game plays just like it fits with the story of Arkanoid, maybe a little better than Arkanoid does. Batty unlike Arkanoid actually has an options menu, with some control options available. On top of that the game has options for turn based 2 player, so you and another player can compete life per life for a higher score. But it gets better, you can have simultaneous 2 player co-op....Ooh take that Arkanaoid! You actually have to work together as well, no trying to gank each other, if the ball drops out of play you both die. You can both totally dominate the level if you're both decent players, and you get the split powerup. However the buffer for the centre of the screen can be a pain in the arse, and a little bit of a dead zone for the ball. There's times where it feels like both players could camp at the divide, and the ball could drop between them regardless. It's a minor grievance, but it's still an annoyance in the middle of a heated 2 player game.

The graphics are a lot more polished for everything in Batty, although since Batty has background graphics the paddle is monochrome rather than the nice defined stand out colour of the Vaus in Arkanoid. The background graphics for batty though tend to be quite sensible, and won't make your retinas feel like they're being slowly burned with a cheap disposable BIC lighter. The enemy sprites are also monochrome because of the background, and also resemble living things, instead of Arkanoid's weird simplistic flying Mr. Whippy Ice Creams, turds, and distorted Geometric nightmares. The definition of Batty's sprites is good, and they do look better. But overall I'd say Batty loses a little something, by having the enemies, and the player the same colour as the background.

The power-ups in Batty are pretty much the same as Arkanoid give or take one or two of them. I particularly like the Smash Ball in Batty, as it literally just ploughs through the bricks without rebounding off them. Also it's not a major difference but Batty's level Skip power-up the Rocket Pack is infinitely better than Arkanoids "Break" Capsule. You don't have to try to keep the ball in play, as you desperately scramble for the teleporter at the edge of the screen before it closes, you touch that rocket pack and you fly off the screen in style...Oh Yeah!!!

Right OK sounds like Arkanoid has the quirks and Batty has the polish eh? Not all the way, the enemies in Batty drop bombs, bombs which kill you, bombs which sometimes in order to not get hit by them you have to move away from the ball and die. No! No! No! Not cool, adds a challenge? Or an added challenge to purposely make the game intentionally harder so it takes longer to get anywhere? The response on the paddle also isn't as good as Arkanoid's, it moves OK but it's not as good. The plus side is you can tap the ball with the edge of it, and there's a good chance it'll fly off at an insanely obtuse angle, instead of flying right through it. Batty has ball trap type things on some stages that catch the ball and do unspeakable things to it, I don't particularly like these, as they're unavoidable, no degree of skill can stop the ball from entering their airspace at least once per level, once again....Not cool.

Sound is simple, music appears to not exist, Arkanoid gets a total win on that one.

I know this is a review of Batty, but for 2 almost identical concepts, one an official conversion, one a blatant but technically more impressive rip-off, and both released in the same year, I couldn't not compare the two really.

So at the end of that Batty is basically a very impressive Breakout clone with nice graphics, very good, if not at times erratic gameplay, options galore, slightly better power-ups than Arkanoid, but is it better? No not really, but this'll annoy you more, I'm giving it a 4, which I also gave to Arkanoid. I like Batty's polish, and desire to be the better game and I love Arkanoid's simplicity, and that it's more enjoyable than it's source material, even with it's inadequacies at times.

They both have good and bad points over each other. Batty's major advantage is though that it was a brilliant Breakout Clone that was given away free on a mag tape (and as part of a compilation later on). Whereas Arkanoid was a full price release, I got my "official" copy of Arkanoid on the Magnificent 7 compilation, near the end of 1987 for my 9th birthday if I remember rightly. I'd been playing it for a good while before then if you catch my drift. I may not have liked Arkanoid as much if I'd paid full price for just that game, but the dice were already thrown.

Batty gets to share a 4 with Arkanoid, they both deserve it really.