Space Invaders Extreme
Developer: Taito | Publisher: Square Enix | Release Date: 2008 | Genre: Shooter | Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon | Size: 512Mbit
Space Invaders is one of the few arcade classics that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. As such, it has seen more than its fair share of revamps and re-makes over the years, but for the 30th anniversary of the license Taito has finally hit the nail on the head. Instead of messing with the fundamentals of the game most of the effort has gone into making it more fun and polished so if you are not a fan of simply moving left or right and shooting things then this won’t appeal to you. Retro fans or anyone that enjoys a good shooter will have a blast with this one however.
As in the original your goal is simply to survive and destroy all invaders before they make it to the bottom of the screen. However, don’t expect a return of the destructible barriers to hide behind, this time you are on your own. To make life easier for you there are new power-ups which can be earned by shooting down four invaders of the same colour. They will reward you with goodies like a laser that can cut a swath through the enemy ranks or bombs that will take out groups of foes in one shot. All of these are only available for a limited amount of time, so make the most of them. The notorious U.F.O’s from the original also make a return and besides extra points they will also allow you access to bonus rounds when shot down.
With only five levels Space Invaders Extreme isn’t the longest of games, but it contains more than enough content to keep players coming back for more. The last three levels have branching routes with easier or harder paths and there are some boss encounters as well which will test your mettle. The game feels more fast paced than the original, but this could just be due to the frantic backgrounds. The visuals retain the classic Space Invaders sprites for a retro look but the swirling psychedelic backgrounds leave no doubt that this is a modern game. The visuals aren’t as crisp as the high resolution PSP version, but bonus rounds and the boss battles are vertically longer on the DS thanks to the top screen. During normal play the top screen is devoted to various gauges and numbers which you’ll hardly ever glance at in any case.
Thankfully the backgrounds can be toned down or turned off as they can serve as a major distraction during play. After extended play the visuals can become a bit of a strain on the eyes, but play within limitations and you should be fine.
To round things off is the pulse pounding audio which consists of electronic dance beats. Not my favourite genre of music but it fits the gamplay perfectly and borrowing a leaf from the Lumines guide book all the sound effects are incorporated with the gameplay and tunes. Firing your weapon or hitting different enemy types will produce music notes instead of repetitive sound effects which is fitting for a game that was famous for its iconic sound effects all those years ago.
The DS version has the edge over the PSP when it comes to multi-player as it supports internet play through the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection while PSP owners are stuck with local play only. There is a Xbox 360 version of the game available as well, but this is definitely a title more suited to portable consoles. The DS controls are spot on and thankfully doesn’t contain any styles control gimmicks or microphone shenanigans.
Space Invaders Extreme is a very worthy revamp of a classic and has been treated with the respect it deserves. It’s rare to see games from so long ago updated in a way that still manages to make them seem fresh without compromising the original’s gameplay. If you like your games frantic and fast paced or want a shooter with hidden depth, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Space Invaders Extreme. The wallet friendly price point it’s being sold at makes it even more appealing. Simply put, if you own a DS and you want a good shooter, then look no further than Space Invaders Extreme.
*Review originally published in 2008.