Space Invaders Extreme «

It has now been thirty years since Space Invaders first invaded our shores. To commemorate the anniversary — and of course to make even more money — original developer Taito has seen fit to re-release the game in infinitely more portable form (PSP and DS) than the massive cabinets of yesteryear. We looked at the DS iteration of Space Invaders Extreme recently and found it to be an exceptional time-waster. The PSP version featured in this review is similar in many respects, with just a few differences, on which more later.

Wisely, Taito opted not to muck around too much with the concept that worked so well three decades ago. Accordingly, Space Invaders Extreme is dead-easy to pick up and play. You shift your little canon back and forth using the d-pad or analog stick and you fire with the X or O button. Simple, right?

Well, yes… if you weren’t constantly besieged by a rogue’s gallery of alien no-goodniks. They arrive in patterned waves, shuffling across the screen from side to side and slowly moving their way to the bottom. If even one of them makes it there, or if just one of the many bombs they drop during their descent contacts you, your cannon instantly implodes and you lose a life. Alternately, if you manage to eradicate one full wave of the little monsters, you rack up points and survive to fight the next wave.

If that were the end of the description, we’d be discussing circa-1978 Space Invaders. But Taito has added a few wrinkles, making the game marginally more difficult and certainly more involving. The invaders are no longer a boring bunch of clones. Now they’re white and blue and green and even two-tone and semi-translucent. And they don’t always blow up upon the first shot. Sometimes it’ll take two or three, and even then they might shrink or multiply instead. Maybe they’ll emit little force fields — which of course makes them that much harder to kill — or perhaps they’ll turn sideways, which, in this 2D environment, essentially means they become paper-thin. Occasionally they’ll break free of the pack and come straight at you at double speed, or explode with such fury that they take out all the other invaders nearby.

Bombs aren’t the only thing the invaders release. Every so often you’ll destroy an invader only to see it’s deployed a colorful little cube. These cubes are in fact power-ups, and they become available only when you shoot four of the same-color invaders in succession.

 

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