Evolution is a powerful thing, both unpredictable and exciting. Space Invaders Infinity Gene is all about evolution. Not just taking Space Invaders, and making it look fancy and fresh. No, what the developers at Taito have done is quite unique. They have created a game that keeps evolving as you play it, and progress in it.
It starts off with a classic scene from the original 1978 Space Invaders with a lonely ship squaring off against a formation of white aliens. Freeze, Darwin quote, go action! From this point on it is more or less non-stop action until your batteries are drained. Yes, this is the first game ever that I have chosen to keep playing until I ran out of juice. That kind of tells something about the nature of the game when I don’t return calls for half a day.
Space Invaders Infinity Gene is a top down shooter set in the Space Invaders universe. The classic aliens are here although mutated with new attacks, movement patterns and a newly found motivation to kill you.
The game revolves around a branching development tree where your performance affects which branch evolves first. It all depends on your score, length of chained kills, difficulty played on and armament used. At least that is what I think. It is hard to say what affects what as the game feels like an organism evolving as I play it. There is an evolution meter that once full evolves the game. The meter is filled after each level, and even after you get a game over. This means that it is always worth trying to beat a level even when you have chosen the wrong armament for the job. And yes you get different ships with different armaments as the game evolves. You also get the ability to move freely as a branch on the evolutionary tree.
The different armaments give you completely different strategies to maximise enemy casualties while keeping your lonely ship the sole survivor. I won’t mention more than the first three I unlocked as I don’t want to spoil your experience unlocking the others. The first one is rapid shot, and it fires two streams of bullets straight up creating massive damage but also making you miss most enemies to the sides of the ship. The second is the search laser that homes in on enemies, and kills all in its path. It is kind of slow, but you can kill enemies at your left and right. The third I unlocked is called wave, and basically shoots a wave of line in a plume in frount of your ship. It deals damage to a lot of enemies at once, and you can take out some of those to the left and right as well. Depending on armament chosen the ship change appearance.
You can power up your weapons by picking up power up energy left once you shoot an UFO. This makes the weapon fire quicker with more powerful ammunition. The game uses autofire, there is no fire button at all. You can turn off autofire but that only means that you have to set it on during game play by touching the screen with three fingers. Controlling the ship is done by touch. Simply touch anywhere on screen to control the ship. These are fiendishly clever controls, as you can move all over the screen without covering your ship or a boss with your fingers.
The levels in Space Invaders Infinity Gene get progressively harder, with more and more aliens and space ships attacking you. Walls show up, as well as doors you have to pass. If you fly into a wall you die. At times the game turns into a dodge em up where you have up to 50 incoming projectiles to dodge. In those cases I am really pleased with the autofire as it takes all my focus to avoid stuff. And the controls are so finely tuned that you can really make the incredible move needed to get out of a space between two enemy shots not much larger than your ship.
Bosses are frequent, and most of them are really fun trying to figure out the weak spots on. Depending on your chosen armament some bosses are pushovers while others can’t be beaten on hard difficulty, at least not by me. This resembles Mega Man II in some ways, as you have to experiment with different weapons against different bosses. This means you have to retry the stage to choose a new armament but since you get evolution points anyway it is just fun to replay stages. I have also met bosses that don’t pose any threat to me; maybe I have been too evolved for them.
The Nagoya attack from the original Space Invaders is also found in Infinity Gene. It is performed when an enemy attacks. During the first moment the enemy shot exits the enemy it is grey. As long as it is grey you can fly through it without harm. Performing the Nagoya attack earns you a lot of points, and is good to learn as it can save your life once it gets hectic.
You start the game with easy and normal difficulties, and so far I have unlocked hard difficulty as well. I don’t know if there are even harder than that but I am on a mission to find out. Easy is a bit too easy, and I urge you to play on normal to get into the game. There are a lot of things to unlock such as artwork, sound effects and musical scores.
The sound in the game evolves as well as you play. Sound effects get mixed into the music making the game totally immersive. Radioflare has tried this previously with some success on the iPhone but Infinity Gene masters it.
There is a game mode called music mode that lets you use your own music to create a level. Based on beats per minute and other such factors the game creates a unique level with enemies depending on the information found inside your chosen song. This really makes the game worthy of the word infinity as you can experiment with the music mode until the end of the world. I have had the same experience as fellow writer Nathan that Swedish metal gives some hellish levels. I tried Swedish metal band Raubtier and the level became near impossible whereas Metallica’s “Broken, beat and scarred” became quite easy. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” became cool and varied whereas Swedish children’s music became as boring as it sounds. Also tried some noise music but it didn’t translate into as hard levels as Swedish metal. I think this mode is pure genius having your own music as template for a level.
Graphics are top notch, but you have to see the game in movement to appreciate it fully. A note of caution is that the game demands that you have at least 22MB free memory on your iPhone 3G to run it. I use a memory manager to avoid rebooting my iPhone. I don’t know how the game performs on the 3GS or iPod Touch, and would like to get comments concerning those devices.
Presentation and graphics
Taito has taken the classic game of Space Invaders into 2009, but still kept the heart and soul of the game released back in 1978. Infinity Gene feature massive effects, with a whole lot going on at the same time without any slowdowns. This is the perfect fusion of retro design with modern capabilities of the iPhone.
Having the menu built around the same evolutionary tree as the levels is really good. The presentation really becomes coherent, and I can feel the care put into this project by the developers.
The only thing I would change is the name of the game; I think Space Invaders Evolution would have been better as the game hammers home evolution as the foundation of the entire game.
Evolving techno music that is of really high quality. I have actually had the menu music playing while writing this review. I would love to have a soundtrack to play in my car, awesome. And once the pace picks up, and you shoot aliens left and right the music immerses you in the Space Invaders universe where you are the last hope of mankind.
Perfect controls. Perfect game progression adding challenges as your skill increases. The most fun I have had on my iPhone.
The main game isn’t that long but as you can replay it on different levels of difficulty it gives you a fair amount of hours game life. Unlocking all bonus levels, artwork, sounds and game setting will take you quite a while. I have played for more than 10 hours, and still haven’t managed to evolve even half of the game.
The music mode gives the game endless replayability, and earns the game another five star rating.
The best action shooter I have ever played on any system anywhere. Nuff said, go get it now! This is the first time I have ever thought that a game is too cheap. I would gladly pay $20 bucks for a game like Space Invaders Infinity Gene, and Taito only demands $4.99.
Official trailer from Taito
The review of Space Invaders Infinity Gene is my 100th review at iPhonegamesnetwork, and I have really tried my hardest to get a good game to celebrate the occasion. In a week of quality titles such as The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition and Resident Evil 4 I am really pleased to review Space Invaders Infinity Gene. Space Invaders Infinity Gene is the second game I give a five-star rating, quite a good review ratio I think finding a true gem every 50th game. Anyway, this is my final review at iPhonegamesnetwork for now, 100 reviews in three months is quite a track record, and now I will take some vacation playing Infinity Gene, RE4 and Monkey Island. Thanks to all of you who have read my reviews, hopefully I have helped some of you in the App Store jungle. And a special thanks to those of you who comment on our reviews!