If you're wondering how a classic shoot 'em up like Taito's 1978 Space Invaders and 1986 block-breaker Arkanoid could somehow co-exist as a hybrid mash-up game, you might be pleasantly surprised by this new release for iOS and Android from Square Enix (the company that now owns Taito.) Rather than try and replicate all elements of both games, in a cute nod to the Space Invaders-shaped level of the original game 31 years ago, it leans hard into the Arkanoid side of things, and has you deflecting the Invaders' bullets back at them (just as you would the ball in the original) as they trot back and forth across the screen.
Unlike the original Arkanoid, it doesn't matter if you miss any of the bullets – the objective in each of its 150 stages is to destroy a certain number of Invaders in a set time limit. The more bullets you deflect the more energy you generate, and once enough is collected you get to briefly enter "attack mode" and blast a ball of energy that eats through the bad guys and sticks around as long as you can keep batting it up the screen.
As with the best mobile action games, the controls are incredibly simple and just require your thumb to move the Vaus (that's the name of the "ship" that serves as the paddle in the original Arkanoid) around the bottom half of the screen. If you have fond memories of either of the games in the title, it definitely has a certain charm. To keep things a little more interesting the game has 40 different unlockable characters pulled from Taito's back catalog – some of which you'll recognize like Bub and Bob from Bubble Bobble, some of which you almost certainly won't – and these each bring their own abilities to spice things up, like shields and ball splitters, to make things more exciting.
Unlike many games of this type – like last year's excellent Galaga Wars, for instance – which lean hard on in-app purchases for unlocking new ships and abilities, Arkanoid vs Space Invaders is a good old fashioned premium game: it's available now for $3.99 (that's a limited time price, it'll climb to $4.99 soon) in the App Store and the Google Play Store.