Sunday, June 22, 2008

Space Invaders Extreme (Taito, Square Enix) Nintendo DS, Sony PSP

What is it: Everyone in their twenties or thirties who managed to grow up with arcade games will no doubt be familiar with Ye Olde Space Invaders. In this game, players try to destroy waves upon waves of pixel aliens bent on invading the Earth with the use of a laser cannon that can be moved horizontally and shoot tiny but potent rounds.

Created to commemorate the game's 30th anniversary, the revamped Space Invaders Extreme for both the DS and PSP is practically the same game as the 1970's original - shoot aliens, save the world - but the similarity ends to a certain degree. The aliens and the space cannon still look their pixellated best and the enemies are still animated with only two frames, but the gameplay has been improved immensely with the addition of bonus stages, new ammunition, and new roster of alien invaders.

Is it worth it: Space Invaders Extreme is indeed worth your time, effort, and money (if applicable), and we're really tempted to answer this question with a simple and succinct "Yes." If the all the nostalgia and mindless pew-pew-pew brand of fun isn't enough to pull you in, let's just say that all the new things in this Space Invaders remake is enough reason why you should give this game your attention.

Let's start from the very moment you boot up the game. You'll be greeted with the Square Enix logo if you play the US version of the game, but don't be alarmed; you won't see your favorite childhood game get raped by an unwelcome abundance of zippers, belts and emo kid pilots with gravity-defying hairstyles.

Once you jump into the meat of the game, you'll find that it's still the same Space Invaders we know and love - until you notice the new additions such as the new weapons, new aliens, and new gameplay rules. Shooting four identically-colored enemies in a row will net you a special weapon that corresponds to the color of the aliens you shoot down: blue enemies will get you a powerful laser beam, red will let you get your hands on bombs, green will broaden your shots while certain white enemies will grant you temporary shields.

You may remember the special UFOs that flit at the top of the screen from time to time in the original game. They're back, and instead of just giving bonus points these special ships either give you access to bonus stages that will let you go on a Fever Time if the stage's conditions are met or blast with lasers of their own, among others.

What could be the most noticeable of all is the trippy overall interface and sounds that manage to give Space Invaders its much-needed space-y look and feel beyond its basic premise of defeating space invaders. The in-game soundtrack will most certainly appeal to fans of electronica, and similar to Q Entertainment's Lumines, every sound effect (shooting, hitting enemies) contributes to the overall rhythm of the music.

Engrossing, addictive, pleasing to the eyes and ears, Space Invader Extreme gives justice to the original game's 30-year-old fanbase.

What makes it toilet-compatible: Space Invaders Extreme, like all good pick-up-and-play titles, can be played on a whim and immediately shut down without any major consequences. Each stage is short enough to be completed during your bonding with Mr. Toilet, but if you have to pause or turn off the game to clean up you don't have to worry about your game save, as Space Invaders Extreme performs an auto-save between stages.

Shooting down waves upon waves of twitching aliens is a very welcome activity while doing your duties on the throne, giving you an added air of importance as you realize that not only are you the momentary king of the toilet, you are also an accomplished pilot that dumps a variety of missiles both real and virtual.