Space Invaders ExtremeI'm not going to lie; I was very apprehensive when I considered purchasing this game. I had heard nothing but negative things about Space Invaders Revolution, and so I was unsure whether or not Taito could redeem itself on the DS. However, I decided to give the game a shot because I have fond memories of playing Space Invaders when I was a kid. And I have to say, I am very impressed with Taito's second offering on the DS.
2008 just so happens to be Space Invader's 30th anniversary. That means that thirty years ago, way back in 1978 (yes, Tainted can subtract), your parents were no doubt peeking behind one of the severely damaged walls and blasting away at the advancing wave of aliens; shooting a precisely timed bullet in hopes of hitting the quickly crossing spaceship. It's one of the video games released during the infancy of the budding video game industry, and one that is fondly remembered as a classic.
So Taito is celebrating this landmark with the release of Space Invaders Extreme on the Nintendo DS and PSP. And while it may be a remake of Space Invaders under the Extreme moniker, this game packs a punch, with a new spin on the classic game as well as surprisingly robust multiplayer modes.
Space Invaders Extreme is still Space Invaders at its core: Your ship remains at the bottom of the screen, and you may only move left and right. As the aliens slowly descend you must shoot them, as well as avoid the shower of bullets from the multitudinous enemies above. The premise is still there, and it's as fun as ever.
But what Taito has done to kick the game up a notch is add some pumping music and a pulsating background, as well as a rails shooter type atmosphere. As obnoxious as that may sound, the colorful background never interferes with the current gameplay, and in my mind it enhances the whole experience. Not to mention, the action here is much more robust than your standard Space Invaders game, with combo systems and bonus levels added to give the game an edge.
Along with the cool soundtrack and pulsating background, the in-game sound effects are in reality musical sounds. For example, hitting an alien's shield results in a cymbal crash. Simply shooting a bullet sometimes reflects the current track playing in the level. At times I found myself shooting at a certain beat to reflect the speed of the current song. Think Electroplankton but on a smaller scale.
As I mentioned earlier, the game has a lot of neat features. Aliens come in many different colors, and hitting four aliens of the same color in succession results in a power up being dropped at you. Red aliens yield bombs, blue lasers, and green a spread gun. It's a neat addition that adds some strategy to the mayhem.
Also, some enemies are bombs in themselves. Hitting these aliens results in an explosion that wipes out any aliens around them. Some enemies also have shields, and some shoot lasers in two different directions. The range in enemies is nice because it adds diversity to the standard gameplay.
Arcade Mode is broken down into levels, with a Boss at the end of each level. In the beginning the levels are short and pretty easy, but I must admit I was struggling by level 4. The game can get difficult, and it does take some effort. However, I was never discouraged that I had to replay a level. For the most part they are pretty short, so you won't have to replay a whole lot. I never found myself unable to enjoy a section because I had to play it again.
Along with Arcade Mode there is a Ranking Mode, which is a much less forgiving version of Arcade Mode. Ranking Mode puts you through the same levels of Arcade Mode, but losing all of your lives results in having to start all the way back at the beginning. So, for all you masochists out there, here's the mode for you.
Stage Mode allows you to play through any level individually that you have unlocked. It's nothing new, but it's a neat distraction if you have a preference for a certain level.
Multiplayer is where this game truly shines. Not only does this game support single-card Download Play for two people, but it also offers a robust online mode. Along with playing with someone online using Nintendo's WiFi Connection, you can upload your Ranking Mode high score to the online leaderboards. It's a nice touch that I probably won't take advantage of personally, but I'm sure others are thankful for the inclusion of a leaderboard.
To wrap things up, Space Invaders Extreme hits the mark in every aspect. The frantic gameplay is fast and satisfying, and the trippy backgrounds and hidden music interaction are neat quirks. The fleshed out online mode and Multiplayer options help make this game a truly worthy addition to the Space Invader family. Happy anniversary, Space Invaders.