We've been test-driving both titles, with the paddle and without, and it definitely adds to the experience. Arkanoid without the paddle is fun, but not terribly engaging, and seems like the kind of game that would work only as a temporary diversion. For a budget title, that's fine! But with the addition of the paddle -- which turns the purchase into something decidedly not budget -- Arkanoid really comes to life as an exciting way to spend some time with your DS.
But what is this paddle controller we've been talking about? The peripheral, which was packaged with Arkanoid in Japan, is a simple add-on for the GBA slot that features a spinning knob that controls the bumper in the game. It was designed to bring the full arcade experience to the handheld title, and it definitely improves every aspect of the game.
As stated before, the paddle also works with Space Invaders Extreme, and similarly adds an enormous amount of depth and fun to that game. For some, however, it may make the new Space Invaders a little too easy, as the early stages of the game (we're still in impressions mode here) were a breeze with the paddle, compared to the regular DS controls.
However, Space Invaders remains a fun and frenetic experience, and the paddle just adds to that -- it feels like a very natural way of playing. It's just right, and it's a shame that so many people won't get to experience the game in that fashion, due to the hassle of importing the controller. Here's hoping something spurs Square Enix into bringing it over after all.
Look: Not only does the paddle boast a lot of personality, but it has a simple, clean aesthetic.
Weight: Light enough that it's unnoticeable on the Phat. Adds a hair of weight to the DS Lite.
Durability: Impossible to determine effects of longterm usage at this stage, but it feels very well made. The knob spins freely and feels very solidly connected, with no noticeable loosening after lots of fiddling.
Price: ¥1800, or $26.90 at NCSX, one of the few retailers that has consistently had the controller in stock.
Colors/Patterns: Available in white, silver, black and pink, but good luck trying to find any retailer with more than one shade in stock at any given time.
Essential? If you're planning on buying both of these games, it's definitely recommended. It is an investment, however -- nearly as much as another full DS game! -- but if you're also into homebrew, armchair programmers have already been working with the controller, and it seems likely we'll see a few more uses for it in the future. So we say yes ... if you're into extras and importing, the paddle will definitely maximize your Arkanoid and Space Invaders Extreme experience. Get!