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Space Invaders Extreme Package Art
GENRE
Shooter
DEVELOPER
Taito
PUBLISHER
Square-Enix
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
MICROPHONE
No
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Space Invaders Extreme

Thirty years ago, Space Invaders arrived in arcades across the world. The simple nature of shooting pixilated aliens slowly marching toward the screen captured the hearts of gamers everywhere. But, in the span of thirty years, games have tremendously evolved. Just recently, titles like Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 have advanced the medium through epic storytelling, Hollywood-esque cut scenes and complex controls. As such, going back to such a straightforward gaming experience would seem ridiculous. Contrary to logical flow though, Space Invaders Extreme updates a classic game while simultaneously producing a title even today’s gamer will enjoy.

visuals

The graphics retain the same pixilated feel for your ship and the invaders. Your enemies now sport a vivid color distinction, which is integral to gameplay. This retro look is engulfed in a bright, quasi-funky backdrop of special effects. The effects rapidly change, and later levels display sirens and cars, while Japanese words zoom in along the edges. This much movement in the background can be problematic in a shooter, and thus the option to turn them off is greatly appreciated.

While the title isn’t anything technologically amazing, this mash-up of new and old works tremendously well. The colors incorporate into the combo system, and the presentation fits perfectly with the musical score.

audio

The soundtrack delights the ears with techno and house music pulsating throughout each level. The songs are interactive, and as players shoot the invaders, a dynamic sound, such as the drum or bass, will play. The audio immersion continues as the tunes adapt to players entering a new round or earning fever mode. Along with an apropos female voice over, the audio really helps bring Space Invaders Extreme into 2008.

gameplay

The main element of the series has not changed. Players will man a ship at the bottom of the screen, which moves horizontally. From the top of the screen, invaders will attack you by moving downward. This vertically diving march toward the ship will evolve with movements from left to right and a variety of formations. While these methods remain unchanged, the alterations to the formula make Space Invaders Extreme truly top-notch.

The first curveball thrown at players relates to the diversity of invader colors. If players shoot four of the same invader colors, such as blue, combos will multiply and a power-up will float toward the ship. The new firepower ranges from lasers to exploding bombs, which are integral during tougher strings of enemies in later levels. The strategic depth of determining which weapon works better against each enemy onslaught is both difficult and rewarding.

The second new change-up for the series relates to UFOs flying horizontally across the screen. Players will want to pay special attention to color-transforming UFO that will thrust gamers into a new round. This new round spans both screens of the DS and adds a timer and gameplay goal for players, such as destroying eight red spaceships. If successfully completed, you will be rewarded with a fever mode that gives players even more powerful versions of the aforementioned weapons. The fever mode is well-implemented and helps change the pace of a level.

While these gameplay aspects help throughout levels, the addition of boss battles mainly relies on the traditional single-shot firepower and maneuverability. The boss design, however, wisely uses both screens to produce challenging match-ups. One boss, for example, requires the player to reflect their shots off enemies on the top screen to the boss moving on the lower screen. Again, the bosses enhance the retro gameplay and throw new mechanics at the end of each level.

Players may be somewhat disappointed that Space Invaders Extreme only spans five levels. There are branching pathways, which become harder with better scores; however, the difficulty may turn off some gamers. Being unable to get past the first or second level may be frustrating for some.

To round things out, the main arcade mode is complemented by a record mode for online rankings, single stage mode for high scores and even multiplayer.

multiplayer

The main draw of multiplayer revolves around two players battling across local LAN or Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Players will still shoot at squadrons of invaders as they fly toward your ship. However, like Tetris DS, players can also assault the other player’s screen by throwing more invaders onto their screen. This gimmick creates intense match-ups that usually boil down to both players with only one live left. This multiplayer aspect is more than an afterthought and could even become a main mode for some players.

overall

While a few faults hurt the game -- like the difficulty and meager amount of levels -- the main foundation of this title is fabulous. Every new addition to Space Invaders Extreme helps progress the series further. The combination of simple pick up and play mechanics from the classic, along with a new layer of strategic depth from power-ups and fever mode, create an astounding shooter for Nintendo DS fans. The multiplayer features extend the replayability tremendously, and the online rankings give players a driving force to improve. The series may be older than the gamers who play it, but Space Invaders Extreme definitely deserves a place with today’s franchises.

final score 8.6/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Evan Campbell
Staff Profile | Email
"Real men don't fight — they sing!"


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