Space Invaders was released upon the unsuspecting world back in 1978. I was just a toddler at the time, and sadly I had no chance of trying it out in the arcades. Now I get a new chance to try it out for my iPhone as Taito has chosen to release it without any extra modes. This is a strategy completely opposite that of Namco that has released remixed versions of their classics adding new graphics and to a minor extent tweaked game play of titles such as Dig Dug, Ms Pacman and Pole Position.
Space Invaders is the most played arcade game of all times, and according to Wikipedia it had earned Taito $500 million in revenue by 2007. Releasing it in the original form is kind of understandable, as a lot of people would want to relive their moments of glory in the arcades.
Sadly the formula is not working as well on the small screen, and as I mentioned in my review of Space Invaders clone Alien Attack it simply isn’t fun any more. Then I am not one of those the game is targeted at, as I didn’t spend all my change down at the arcades back in 1978.
Most people should know the game play in Space Invaders by now but to recap quickly it is a fixed shooter game. You have a space ship at the bottom that you can move left and right. You shoot at incoming aliens moving in formation. The aliens shoot back, and you have to avoid their shots or hide your ship behind the destructible bunkers. If you are hit you loose a life, and all lives lost equals game over. If the aliens manage to reach Earth it is also game over as the space invasion is successful.
You have three different control methods: tilt, on screen buttons and touch and drag controls. All three forces you to fire using a button, and there is no way to set this autofire meaning only the tilt controls let you play the game one-handed.
There are a few options you can change such as number of starting lives; different screen modes and game play magnification. The different screen modes show how the game evolved in the arcades by using cellophane overlay to infuse some colour in the game.
Space Invaders is all about chasing high scores, and in 2009 it feels dated. With nothing to unlock or achieve the only real attraction of the game is nostalgia. Game play feels slow no matter which control option I use. And having to press the little fire button for every little shot gets boring. I understand that this was awesome playing at a full-size arcade cabinet, but on a small iPhone screen it isn’t fun at all.
There is no music in Space Invaders, and the sound effects although classic feels thin. The game fades out your own music.
At $4.99 I think Space Invaders is just for those who played it down at the arcades. If you feel that you want to try out a Space Invaders game I think you are better off with Alien Attack at a buck. Better still, have a look at the sequel Space Invaders Infinity Gene to see where Taito has taken the franchise.