Thirty years ago, an engineer by the name of Tomohiro Nishikado created the classic arcade game Space Invaders. In an instant, the Taito Corporation, which was based in Seoul Korea, was a household name. Originally designed to be a flight simulation game, it was smartly re-branded, using spaceships and adopting a futuristic theme. Little did they know the influence that such a simple change would have on generations to come.
In 2005, Taito was purchased by video game giant Square Enix. In the tradition of many Square Enix properties, it was decided that to re-release the original Space Invaders, while giving it a modern look and feel. This is a continuation of the retro revival that has been gaining a significant amount of steam over the last three years.
It is hard to imagine how one could make improvements to a game that has been the same way for so long, but after thirty years in existence, it looks like there is still plenty left in this franchise from beyond the fringe. Seeing a Space Invaders reborn in such a dramatic way draws parallels to the recent release of Pac-Man Championship Edition on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. In fact there is alot that Taito has learned from that successful re-release.
The first thing that they learned is that trippy is better. Space Invaders Extreme takes every aesthetic that the game ever had and turns it on its ear. What was traditionally a solid back background has been replaced with flashy, technicolor, full motion videos that can transform even the most tame enemy interaction into a drug induced shootout from hell. All of the trippiness is further fueled by the driving techno beat acting as the soundtrack. Interestingly enough, the game also borrows a page from the Rez book of game design and allows the players actions within the environment to fill in the critical holes in the score. This gives the music a personalized feel that continually morphs throughout the course of the game.
Another trait that has been picked up from Pac-Man Championship Edition is that the designers have realized that enemies have evolved over the last two to three decades. While they share the original sprite based appearance, the invaders have different several new abilities. Some of these updates include the ability to turn on their side to avoid gunfire, use of stronger invaders that can take more damage and the ability to unleash a laser beam bent on making you very dead, very fast. One last way that the enemies have changed is by introducing boss battles at the end of every level.
One last improvement is the inclusion of power-ups and bonus levels. Power-ups correspond with the colors of the enemies. After you have killed a certain number of the same colored creatures, they will drop special items like bombs and lasers. Bonus levels also make a fitting contribution to the special abilities, by unlocking one after every completed stage. These also act as a good change of pace, scattered throughout the gameplay.
Though there are numerous improvements, this is far from a perfect game. The biggest issue for the PSP version of the game is that the full motion video in the background has a tendency to be distracting. Also missing was a continue system, similar to a 'pay a quarter to continue' feature that would otherwise be included in an arcade game.
At the end of the day, Space Invaders Extreme is a must buy for any PSP owner. It has a perfect structure for a portable games. The quick levels that can be jumped in and out of with ease, and has replayability in spades. Be sure to check it out!
Now that you have seen the review, check out below for a gameplay video of Space Invaders Extreme: