|If you are an old school Space Invaders fan (who for some crazy reason doesn't already own this game) and have been waiting for the franchise to be brought kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, then close this window, log off and rush to your nearest gaming emporium. Honestly just go, you don't need to need this review and nothing that is said here will mean a jot of difference. This is the game for you period.
Still here?! Very well then. Space Invaders has appeared in many many guises down the years and on over 22 platforms, but has never quite managed to recapture the magic of the original. Some have even seemingly done their best to try and tarnish the franchises good name. Take Space Raiders (no not the popular corn based crisps) for the PS2 and Gamecube a 3D version where you run through urban areas as characters such as street teen Justin and fashionista Ashley. It was so far removed from what made Space Invaders great it was a total train wreck and not worth any ones time and effort; Space Invaders fan or not.
One crucially important feature of the original Space Invaders was the music. The MIDI music was perfect in its execution, it heightened the tension of the game and gave a sense of impending doom as the aliens got closer and closer. Space Invaders Extreme takes this premise and turns it on its head by incorporating a very modern obsession in todays gaming; rhythm game mechanics. This helps to bring the game up to a modern standpoint from an audio perspective and helps to make it relevant in the current gaming climate. Any game can add sounds here and there in an attempt to give it rhythm, but to get it right is another thing all together. Space Invaders Extreme adds blips, beeps and pings all over the place which all fit in with the games soundtracks. There is nothing more satisfying than entering fever mode and hearing the sound rush out of your headphones (arguably the best way to play).
Space Invaders Extreme also benefits from simple refinement of the classic formula. Players engage the aliens through increasingly difficult wave after wave before fighting a boss battle to progress onto the next stage. Bonuses are given for killing aliens of the same colour, wiping out an entire row, getting a combo without missing. The bonuses take both the form of extra points and strongers weapons depending on the colour of the enemy killed. Hitting UFO's is interesting as they both provide high points and the enjoyable bonus rounds. These take the form of little mini rounds whereby the player has to complete a certain take for example wipe out ten UFO's in 30 seconds. Completing this results in fever time which is abound with bonuses that get the higher scores and higher ranks.
The graphics are crisp and for the most part simple and faithful to the series, whilst still appealing to the Geometry Wars/Lumines generation. One problem some people may have are the graphically intense backgrounds on the PSP version. Whilst they are a good fit for the game and tie in nicely with the music they can be distracting, this however is not a problem as they can simply be turned off.
Controls on both versions are as tight and reliable as you would expect. On PSP the analogue nub works just as well as the D-Pad on both systems. The DS version however does have one great touch that nudges it up a notch with the inclusion of support for an optional paddle controller (compatible with Arkanoid also) that plugs into the GBA slot on the bottom of the DS. This provides a truly old school control system and helps make the controls and experience feel even closer to the arcade classic.
If you are a fan of the franchise, don't already own it and still havn't been convinced by this review, then seriously what's going on? If your are newcomer to the franchise, give it a go. The series is brought up to modern standards and thrives, without losing what made it a classic back in 1978. Space Invaders Extreme will offer some of the most addictive handheld gameplay you will find on either platform and can be regarded as an essential purchase for all.
Labels: DS, PSP, Reviews, Space Invaders, Taito