Game Review: Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)

Sometimes, I lie awake at night, with a single, all-consuming question echoing in my thoughts:

What happens when you take an arcade classic from the late 70’s, crank up the intensity, and add liberal doses of psychotropic drugs?

Find out inside.

Any time I get a chance to play the ‘classic arcade’ version of Space Invaders, I’m always struck by how old it makes me feel, and simultaneously how it still brings out the little kid in me.

When I was a lad, I saw a cabinet at a local store, perched between pinball machines. I dropped a quarter in the slot and sold my soul.

You see, Space Invaders was the first video game I ever played, so it holds a special place in my heart.

When I heard that SI was getting the ‘New Retro’ treatment, like Pacman CE and Bionic Commando, I was a little concerned; exactly how do you improve on distilled gaming perfection?

Taito started by not mucking around with the basic gameplay elements.

Controls are the same as they ever were, it’s still a 2D shooter, and ANYONE can pick up the game and know how to play instantly.

The Invaders now have multiple movement patterns, sometimes changing mid-attack. These aliens can spin, wrap around to the other side of the screen, march straight at you, loop crazily, or turn SIDEWAYS in 3D space.

Every new wave of Invaders has a different mechanic, requiring you to first figure out how the enemy will behave, and second, decide the most efficient way to dispatch them.

No longer limited by a monochrome monitor and an 8hz/8 bit processor, aliens come in various sizes, colors, and abilities. Destroying four enemies of the same color consecutively will cause a power up to drop. Bombs, screen spanning laser beams, and shields are just a few available.

Deciding which colors to destroy, in which order, adds a layer of puzzle solving to the game.

Do you take out the blue enemies first to get the laser, so you can wipe out a few columns of red enemies with meltable shields? That will get you a bomb, so you can take out the big green alien quickly.

Speaking of big aliens, the game has Boss Battles. Levels are broken into waves of enemies, and the final wave of every level is… you guessed it… a Boss.

At times it feels the developers are punishing you for playing by throwing ridiculously hard bosses at you, but as a general rule there is always a trick to defeating them and until you figure out their weakness, you’re going to get pummeled.

At least there are continues and save games, right?

UFO aren’t just for target practice anymore. Depending on their color, they will drop alien reinforcements, shoot at you, or launch a mini-game challenge (the game type is randomized, and there appear to be about a dozen different games).

Completing a mini-game challenge will power up your weapon to a ridiculous level, allowing you to plow through 2 or 3 waves in seconds.

The game is insanely fun, and reinvents the classic without losing the parts that made the original game great.

To wrap up, every new person I’ve introduced to the game has said three things:

  1. %$#@!!! That’s not how they’re supposed to move!
  2. Boss battles? It has BOSS BATTLES?
  3. One more try.

I just say ‘BUY IT’.


1 Comment

  1. I have junkied out on this game on my daughters PSP and found myself asking “Can I take this to work tonight…I just want something to do at lunch tonight.” As an 80’s gamer I am very pleased with what they did with the game. Was a little bummed out when I beat the game cause I was having so much fun with it I thought “Aw…too short…” but wait its not over. The game is insane in the EXTREME but just when you think you have beat it you unlock an “EXTREME MODE”. YES! I am excited all over again and can’t seem to get past level two on this mode but I am still trying. If you were ever a fan of this game you have to play this version of the game.

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