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Monday, June 23, 2008

Game Review:Space Invaders Extreme

A commendable remake.

Pulling off a respectable celebration for the 30th anniversary of a famous franchise is certainly no easy task. But Taito has accomplished the aforementioned with its Space Invaders franchise with great panache – by releasing what could possibly be the nth remake of the original 1978 classic. Make no mistake: Space Invaders Extreme isn’t a mere haphazard rehash, but one that not only manages to stay true to its roots, but also produce some fantastic additions that do well to complement the tastes of today’s ever-demanding gamers.

The premise from yesteryear remains pretty much similar: You’re in control of a spaceship, attempting to fend off the endless marching posse of alien formations – all the while shifting from left to right and vice versa at the bottom of the screen. The aliens retain their somewhat pixellated forms and nope, your spaceship can neither move up nor down, so players expecting a total reinvention of the franchise are advised to move on. But the game repays the faith of those who stay on with some really nifty background and sound effects. Colorful moving artworks populate the backgrounds of the playing screens and medleys of energetic tunes make their presence known as you blast away at the aliens, creating a very immersive alien-shooting experience that could not have been done imaginably better.

If the background and sound effects aren’t enough to turn you on, then the added gameplay depth is. For instance, players get a power-up when they hit 4 aliens of the same color consecutively. The color of the power-up is reliant upon the color of the aliens you hit: Shooting 4 blue aliens in a row nets you the blue power-up which grants you a satisfying laser beam, while the red aliens drop the red power-up, which provides you with the ability to create extra carnage with the bomb. Green power-ups gift you 3 extra cannons and silver power-ups, a shield. Occassionally, a bonus UFO will glide across the top of the screen. If you hit it, you will enter what is known as the “Frenzy Mode”, which gives you specific objectives like shooting a certain number of aliens and obliterating a particular number of alien formations in a specified amount of time to fulfill. Needless to say, bonus points would be awarded upon completion of these objectives. Bump up ample scores and you will get an additional CPU-controlled spaceship that will assist you in destroying the aliens. All these incentives definitely make for a deeper and more enjoyable gameplay.

Of course, that isn’t all Space Invaders Extreme has got to offer. Multiplayer is very much the standard feature of most DS games today and this game is no exception. The DS version (the game is also available for PSP) supports local wireless play, as well as online play via Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, through which top scores can also be uploaded. There is also the option of download play if you want to play with friends who do not own a copy of Space Invaders Extreme. Indeed, given the game’s unlimited replayability value (how can one ever tire of blasting some colorful aliens while grooving to some energetic tunes), multiplayer, especially online play, is a welcome addition.

Final Comments
The aliens are back for the nth time. But before shrugging off the game as just another remake, note that Space Invaders Extreme has brought some awesome updates to the age-old franchise. There are impressive background and sound effects which immerse you in the game, and that is discounting the increased depth of the gameplay. Online play is also a boon. However, there is a downside to Space Invaders Extreme – while the game is unequivocally fun and has unlimited replayability value, Space Invaders Extreme isn’t a game that you would want to play for hours on end; it is best played in short bursts. In fact, its quick gameplay and rounds are very well suited for that.

TOTAL SCORE: 8.7/10

The Good:
- Impressive background and sound effects
- Added gameplay depth
- Multiplayer with online play
- Unlimited replayability value

The Bad:
- Not appropriate for play for consecutive hours; best played in short bursts

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