Title: Space Invaders ExtremePublisher: Square EnixDeveloper: TaitoRRP: £19.99Platform: Nintendo DS
You could be forgiven for wondering what the point of Space Invaders Extreme is. After all, Space Invaders is 30 years old and based on ludicrously simple technology – there’s plenty of nostalgia in it, but can it really stand up alongside the games of today and feel like it’s still earning its place?
You’ll probably be surprised to find that the answer is a resounding “yes.” By revamping the graphics and sound while leaving the gameplay fully intact, Space Invaders Extreme makes the old seem almost new.
Admittedly, no-one’s going to be particularly fooled – it’s still the same, Space Invaders game underneath – but if you’re looking for the kind of pick-up and play, arcade-game distraction that portable consoles thrive on, it fits the bill perfectly. In the long-term, there’s the usual selection of expanded game modes that give you a good reason to come back and play the same move-left-and-right-while shooting game that Space Invaders can’t help but become. Scoring high unlocks extra stages, while multiplayer modes ensure that even if you get bored of the solo game, there’s still fun to be had.
These kinds of enhancements come more or less as standard these days – after all, gamers are conditioned to accept far more depth and complexity in a title then the original Space Invaders would offer alone. Luckily, Space Invaders Extreme manages to include that depth without unnecessarily compromising the simplicity of the Space Invaders game. The addition of boss fights and power-ups go a long way to deepening the gameplay, but you never feel like you’re not playing Space Invaders.
A large part of that is the retro aesthetic that the game revels in. While the sound and graphics all use the originals as a starting point, every screen and menu is awash with trippy visuals that alternately soothe and attack your senses. It’s possible to turn them off, but if you make that choose, you soon realise how much they add to the experience of playing.
The one concern with Space Invaders Extreme is that despite all the attempts to touch it up and make it look new and original, you can’t cover up the truth that it’s not really able to compete with similar, more complicated games – and thankfully, in a rare display of restraint, it has been priced accordingly! An RRP of £19.99 does stretch credibility slightly, but you can easily knock a few quid off that by shopping around, turning the game from a “maybe” into a “definitely” for any arcade fans. If lengthly JRPGs and plodding interactive fiction titles aren’t your thing on the DS, then Space Invaders Extreme offers the exact antidote – fast, skill-based gaming that doesn’t get old.