#868 Space Invaders Extreme

Posted: 27th March 2013 by Jeroen in Games
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227th played so far

Genre: Action/Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: DS/PSP/XBox 360
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Square Enix

Everyone knows Space Invaders, right? It’s a classic, its aliens even adorning the cover of our book. It’s a game that everyone knows and one of the first people will think of when they think of video games.

The original was hugely succesful, spawning a lot of copies such as Galaxian, but never (really) a sequel until this game. Thirty years later, Space Invaders Extreme was released for various handhelds. To quote the box: “A legend on a whole new level”

Our Thoughts

That… is quite an experience.

The general gameplay remains the same – you move around and shoot the aliens, as well as UFOs flying around for bonus points. While doing this, you avoid the missiles being fired by the enemy aliens and try to get them before they reach the lower edge of the screen. Well, you have one disadvantage – the missile bases at the bottom of the screen are gone, unfortunately. You don’t get that protection any longer. Just that would’ve been boring though – and a bit of a waste of time. Plenty has changed, then, to make the game more worth it and to earn its place on this list.

First, a lot of colour has been added. The background and aesthetics first of all – while playing the game, the patterns and colours reminded me a lot of Lumines or Meteos. It’s pretty neat, although most of the time you don’t get a chance to admire it – it’s there to admire when there’s time. More relevant colour, however, shows up in the colours of the enemies. These, aside from sometimes being white, now show up as red, green and blue. This time this matters, as you can rack up combos of enemies. Get four blue enemies in a row, for example, and your weapon becomes a continuous laser, while four green make you fire four shots at once. These power-ups can be incredibly useful and getting them will be one goal you’ll need while advancing through these stages.

Rather than the set formation that repeats itself at faster speeds throughout the game, Space Invaders Extreme instead mixes up its wave of attackers with different versions (almost Arkanoid-like) to mix things up. Added to that are several bonus stages where you get extra points by killing enough monsters in a specific amount of time, as well as boss levels that feature a giant alien for you to defeat.

Despite the fact that the shelters have been abandoned in favour of a more vulnerable approach the difficulty feels about the same. Everything moves slightly faster and there are kamikaze ships to annoy you but on average each sub-level will see you facing less enemies than in the original. Plus the fact that it is very easy to destroy your enemies missiles with your own means that you are less likely to be backed into a corner. On the other hand… everything is still a hell of a lot faster than the original so if the flashing lights don’t distract you the sheer amount of blur will.

In actual fact there is no reason for this to be a Space Invaders brand game. If anything piggybacking on the brand this way actually detracts from some of the fun. True, it lead to wider notice and seeing gigantic ships firing laser beams is not without it’s charm but I really would have loved to see a more original field of enemies with the same multi-coloured, blurry, Lumines-style experience. In this way it is hard to know whether this is a loving attempt to bring this classic to an audience used to commercial breaks every five minutes or just a good piece of marketing. Everyone with a console will know Space Invaders, hell most will have played it, but creating a fast seizure-inducing sequel feels a bit off. Then again, the restraint it must have taken Square Enix to not sneak in a chocobo must have led to someone developing a hernia.

Final Thoughts

It’s a good game, don’t get me wrong, and it’s not like me to get sentimental over the legacy of a computer game released before I was born. Did it need a reboot? No it didn’t. Is it a good reboot? Yes it is. Still, does not make it feel any less cheap than the fourth Indiana Jones film was.