Space Invaders Extreme review (PSP)
Thursday, July 10, 2008 12:00 AM
30 Years - that's older than the majority of gamers out there, what with the average age of a PC gamer (for example) being 28.
Therefore, from that simple deduction, it's easy to come to the conclusion that the majority of people reading this will have never played Space Invaders.
That is, perhaps, set to change, thanks to the 30th anniversary game from Taito; Space Invaders Extreme. The 'Extreme' should mean it's a nitro-boosted, overclocked version of the original game. It must be ripped from all of the gaming steroids that it's taken.
It all seems that way. You're greeted by some high quality trance music (isn't that a contradiction in terms? - metal Ed) thumping through the PSP's minuscule speakers.
Even so, the music's definitely got a beat to it and, when playing the game, it helps build the frenzied atmosphere from all that "Extreme!" A post-modern menu system then follows, offering the player a few basic choices. Then you start.
Level one. Level five. Done. Space Invaders Extreme isn't exactly the longest game in the world. With enough skill, you'll be able to complete the Arcade mode in just over an hour.
This is the perfect portable game as it takes the 70s arcades and puts them in your hand. If you own a handheld, the obvious reason is that you want quick bursts of gaming on the go.
The game will keep you occupied on a bus journey or a flight to the south of France. It doesn't need to hold your attention for any longer. It's got unlimited playability because of that. It is undiluted gaming at its most basic.
The game does manage to bring some 21st century goodness into play, though. The thing that hits you first is the looks and presentation.
In essence, this is still Space Invaders, just with a fresh lick of paint. Harsh tones contrast with the brightness of the invaders. There's an animated background (which can be turned off) that will appeal to the attention spans of the under-15s. It's all rather modern and in your face.
Special effects go off at every opportunity. It's an assault on the senses and it's not an experience for the faint hearted.
Space Invaders has, perhaps, grown up. It's joined the modern age where a basic format isn't enough. You still shoot at moving targets that go back and forth, slowly creeping towards your turret.
You still have limited lives and a little cannon that goes "Pew-Pew." That's where the similarities end. The game seems to go a bit mental, a bit 'extreme'.
There are invaders of different sizes, weapons and movement patterns. Your load out is equally varied. Coloured squares will drop from shot enemies which give you an uber-laser that wipes everything on the screen, large-explosion bombs, multi-shot cannon or a handy shield.
After you've fought your way through the hordes of enemies, you'll come to a boss. They usually fill up most of the screen and chuck a ton of explosives at you. At the end of every level you are ranked on your performance and then you split at a difficulty tree. If you were outstanding then the game will chuck the 'Extreme' levels at you, while conversely if you were a bit pap then you'll stick on the easy route.
Post-game, the Extreme mode becomes unlocked, which ramps up the difficulty and throws everything it's got at you.
If that still sounds a little lacklustre, then you'll be pleased to know that Space Invaders Extreme holds a few other tricks up its sleeve. The UFO's return but actually have a purpose depending on their colour.
A yellow will bring up a wheel of fortune where the rewards vary from extra lives to the booby prize of nothing. A flashing UFO will bring up a mini-mission that usually has an aim akin to shoot everything in a time limit.
Completing that successfully will grant you a 'Frenzy Mode' where you fly through the waves of enemies building up combos and maxing out your score.
The game includes a trendy colour / column system that rewards you for hitting Invaders of the same colour or clearing out whole columns in one shot. It completes a package that is visually impressive and severely addictive.
Basically, it's a very good example how to update a game and a very worthy effort.