Watch a year of brute force beat Arkanoid in 11 minutes

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I wondered how they always got the 3-ball powerup and no others. Were they manipulating the RNG? Turns out no and yes; they only allowed the 3-ball powerup (so, that wasn’t random) AND they figured out through disassembly what the sources of randomness were. One is paddle position, the other is 100s digit of score. And indeed, the brute-forcing discovered cases where one wanted to play slower at one point to have the right 100s digit to be able to play faster at another. Respect.

Incidentally, it’s fun mousing over the YouTube time bar and watching the levels melt, one by one.


Arkanoid was so much fun, i spent a lot of time playing that on my NES… though i had a 90 games-in-1 bootleg cartridge, it was actually closer to 30-40 games and then those games again but with various cheats available. Arkanoid was one of the ones that had “cheats”, though it was a level select screen. By myself i could never get to the final level :stuck_out_tongue: kinda glad for it because i don’t think i would have ever seen the game’s final boss.


I was surprised how easy they made that boss look.

Not that I would ever find myself on level 36…

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It’s a wonder that games like that didn’t turn us all into insane, blithering idiots.

Just watching that video gave me jitters.

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That was breathtakingly impressive. Kudos.

I had no idea that there was a final boss!


That’s cool. I used to love the Arkanoid games. I had the C-64 version and I only ever got to level 36 twice.

It’s really interesting how, even from watching this basic interaction, you can feel the non-human nature of the “player”. The paddle doesn’t react to the balls at all, it just always happens to be in the right place when when they get to the bottom of the screen, since it already knows all possible futures, in a way a human player can’t (and even a computer couldn’t, if the game weren’t deterministic). It’s more like you’re just watching a long, infinitely improbably fluke.


Ever since I was a young boy
I’ve played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain’t seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pin ball!


“If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.”
Marcus Brigstocke


I’m not saying that the games caused cancer, or lead to school shootings. I’m saying that watching the paths of those three balls on every level made me twitchy.

That’s a thing that would be very hard for traditional frame-by-frame Tool Assisted Speedrunning would have a lot of trouble finding. Definitely speedrunners do a good job managing things like that, but on such a microscopic level it’s hard to imagine finding every tiny optimization.

Yah, the thing that amazed me was how it never lost a ball. Seems to me there should be the occasional situation where two of the balls are so far apart at the bottom that the paddle can’t move quick enough to save them both. I must misunderstand something.

Still wicked impressive. I’d be done at level 4 or so. Pretty much any game, level 3 or 4 is all I can mange. I suck at video games.

I guess that’s the beauty of brute force. You can’t possibly plan to make sure the balls are always close enough together that you can catch them. But the brute force method revealed a set of inputs that happens to produce that result!

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