Space Invaders Extreme Review

Players: 1-4
Released: 2009

Reviewed July 2009 by Keith Murray

Space Invaders; probably one of the most ubiquitous games ever created. Occupying a place in the affections of whole different generations is some feat, but a position that Taito`s finest has no problem filling. Though the years haven`t been particularly kind to the franchise, with some decidedly suspect sequels that attempted to refresh the title but failed.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary in 2008, Space Invaders Extreme (SIE) was originally released on the DS and PSP. A colourful reinvention, it did such a sterling job of re-invigorating the series with some clever ideas while retaining the essence of what made the original such a hit back in the day. Now it makes its way onto the XBLA with some new additions.

Taking elements from recent popular titles, SIE shapes what it borrows from the DS titles to create something fresh and exciting and those familiar with the earlier titles will nod in approval at what Taito has taken on board. Each Invader that is dispatched is accompanied by a sound, invoking feelings of Tetsuya Mizuguchi`s seminal title, Rez. Do this for four matching colours and a power up will be dispatched. Stacking the invaders like this is reminiscent of Mizuguchi`s other work, Lumines and all the stronger for the association it provokes.

Shoot a UFO and depending on its colour itll start a bonus round. The player is instructed to shoot a certain amount of Invaders, or similar challenge, before warping back to the main action If successful this instigates Fever Time where all UFO`s that are shot down are worth a hefty bonus. Accompanying this is a female announcer who chimes in to let the player know what is occurring on a regular basis.

While initially bewildering, the player will soon find their groove, attempting to negotiate the screen of invaders, dispatching them on order of colour and column, while trying to eke out every last point for that elusive S ranking. Each stage culminates in a boss encounter and while conforming to the norm, the player will have to figure out exactly how to approach the trickier ones which will cause a fair amount of “dur!” moments before they realise the solution is staring them in the face.

For all the changes, those who misspent their youth pumping 10p pieces into arcade cabinets will be gladdened to see that The Nagoya Attack technique is still a valuable tool to be exploited, meaning SIE hasnt forgotten its roots when updating itself for the noughties.

Additions to the XBLA release are online co-operative and versus modes. While the former can accommodate up to four players and the versus mode is fairly basic, both suffer from horrible lag, almost making these new additions worthless.

Like all re-inventions, Space Invaders Extreme embodies what made the original such a hit, while finding new and interesting ways to convey its message. As such it comes highly recommended.