Review by Nigel Wood
In 1978 Taito created one of the defining video games of all time. The game was Space Invaders and it catapulted the video game industry to dizzy heights. To this day many gamers hold the game very dear to their hearts, and the gaming industry has capitalised on this very fact. It seems every few years an anniversary edition is released on the latest consoles offering the classic experience as well as a new twist on the core gameplay.
As well as the official licensed versions of the game, since it was first released, Space Invaders has seen unofficial clones released offering identical play but with subtle changes in the name and the graphics. One could argue that these are mere cash-ins… ways to simply make a quick buck on the back of someone else’s hard work. Or, you could see it as the ultimate flattery, a labour of love by fans of the original.
It’s with the latter that I think StarByte’s Space Invasion falls. Dubbed as a ‘retro-inspired classic arcade action’ game, Space Invasion is a lovingly recreated port of the Taito original. As soon as you boot it up you are presented with the retro invaders style typeface asking you to hit 1p to start. Once in the game everything is immediately familiar: the pixel perfect aliens; the blocky canon; the bases slowly being pummelled by enemy fire and the mothership fleetingly appearing at the top of the screen teasing you for a bonus point. Sound has also been recreated, such as that nauseating blip which quickens as the alien fleet approaches earth at an increasing rate. It’s all there.
For those who have never played the original, and if you haven’t where have you been for the last 30 years! Here is a quick description of how to play. Survive wave after wave of aliens as they attack your earth defences, The game ends when either: a) you lose all your lives; b) your bases are destroyed; or c) The aliens land on earth. That’s it! It’s the epitome of simple, and the reason why this classic game has lasted so long.
Space Invasion also controls well on the iPhone. To move your canon left and right you use the visual keys laid out at the bottom of the screen. You can either tap on the direction to move, or you can slide your finger from one to the other. Tapping is more precise but sliding makes it feel closer to playing the original. To fire your laser simply tap the fire button. The controls are pretty responsive, and apart from my lacking marksman skills I rarely felt frustrated.
StarByte has added some subtle differences over the original game. Some enemies drop powerups to pick up when you destroy them… these are bonus points, super shield, super bullet (which destroys all aliens in it’s path) and extra life. These spice up the gameplay, and add to the longevity of the game. But with games such as space invaders remixed for PSP and DS adding new twists and variation to the core game, I think Space Invasion has missed a trick, and could have brought a more original package to this classic and to its adoring fans. I hope StarByte will either update the current version or bring out a deluxe sequel with added options. I’d like to see online score boards, some remixed aliens and end of level bosses, a more modern visual style and maybe add a retro graphics option that takes the current art and turns it black and green with arcade scan lines, just for the fans.
Presentation & Graphics: 8
OK the graphics cannot compare to modern day 3D action shooters, but for sheer dedication to recreate this classic game, it gets bonus points.
Retro blips and beeps are in keeping with the times, but some music would be nice… how about War of the Worlds!
It’s space invaders, its classic gameplay at its best! What more can be said.
Game life: 5
This really is a pick up and play till you die kinda game, so anyone expecting something deeper or some added extra features may be disappointed. Where’s the online leaders boards?
Game rating: 7
Overall, Space invasion is a great conversion of the much loved classic. The price point is good too, at only $3.99 (£2.39) it’s good value when compared to classic offerings like Pac Man and Ms Pac Man at $9.99 respectively. If you are a retro gamer or even if you want something to pick up and play while waiting for the bus, then I recommend you dust off those flares, lace up those rainbow roller skates and hustle your way over to the app store for some 70′s style action!
Space Invasion is available to purchase here