Over the years, Taito has done quite a bit with Space Invaders. They been rehashed, tossed onto compilations, re-done, and updated. The one thing they’ve never had done was to go EXTREME! Err, well, at least that’s how you’d do it back in the ‘90s. Is this whole “extreme” fad over by now?
Regardless of the naming, this is one of the better outings for that never-ending world destroying alien horde. It’s appropriate given that this is their 30th anniversary of killing us all to treat them to something special, such as a wonderful graphical overhaul, not to mention giving the Invaders even more stuff to help us die faster.
Much of Extreme feels random. The arcade mode is a simple “kill ‘em all” scenario, split into levels. Each level has a boss, and as per the norm, each stage becomes progressively harder. The core hasn’t changed. The player is still stuck moving left to right (30 years and we still can’t find the tech to let the cannon move up… depressing), shooting up at the descending monsters.
At the very least, there are new weapons available to wipe out these suckers, including a nifty laser cannon and machine gun that offers a wider shot. As you score points, you can upgrade your standard cannon, and dying will take away two levels previously earned.
All of that is simple enough. This is a score frenzy though, and there are numerous bonuses and game altering opportunities for you to access. Rounds pop-up after special requirements are met, taking the player to a special screen with a specific task (shoot down X number of Invaders in Y number of seconds). Fever Time is another cut-away feature, boosting your firepower, and bonuses are awarded for all critters blown away during this period.
You could easily play through the game and not even realize how to access these scoring opportunities. The manual does a fine job of explaining them, but either way, they do take away from the game more than they add. It’s easy to find a rhythm to slaughtering the aliens, and to suddenly have the game stop to head into a bonus is jarring. The wild, trippy backgrounds aren’t helpful either, though they never infringe on the gameplay.
Multi-player is limited to local AD HOC only, which is a shame. The DS port offers full Nintendo WiFi support. PSP owners are jilted. The competition mode is fun regardless, letting you send Invaders over to your opponent as you shoot them down. Better yet, there are no cut-away scoring opportunities. It’s pure Space Invaders.
Traditionalists may scoff at some of the changes, but at its heart, this is still Space Invaders. Unlike something like Galage Legions on the Xbox Live Arcade, this is a faster paced, more intense game than it originally was for a modern audience. While the score challenges are out of place (and the original game isn’t included as a bonus), this is still a fine ancient-school blast-a-thon.
Space Invaders Extreme is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for absolutely nothing apparently even though millions of alien babies will now be parent-less. This game can also be found on: DS.