The last few years have seen remakes of classic arcade franchises like Pac-Man and Galaga. Both titles received worthy re-imaginings respectively in Pac-Man Championship Edition and Galaga Legions. These games not only held the ideals of the original, but added something new to the mix bringing a classic formula to a new generation of gamers. Space Invaders is the next franchise to receive a facelift with Space Invaders Extreme. The game was a hit on the PSP and DS last year, and now Taito has brought it to the Xbox Live Arcade with not only updated hi-def visuals, but four player co-op.
The premise of is simple - shoot down all the 8-bit aliens as fast as you can. The real challenge of the game is mastering all the curve balls it throws at you. The biggest addition to the game is a combo meter, a bar on the right side of the screen showing which color bad guys you've started a chain for. Match four baddies of the same color and a weapon of that color will drop, match another four and you'll have your shot at a bonus space ship. The weapons range from a giant blue laser beam to a spread shot for taking out multiple enemies, any of them help immensely with your multiplier. Your scoring multiplier ranges from 1x to 5x, and increments you earn regardless of the color enemy you shoot. If you are good enough you can enter a break state where you multiplier goes from 5x to 10x and really rack up the points, but wait too long between shots and your multiplier will tick back down to one.
8-bit Aliens never died so beautifully.
If you shoot the aforementioned bonus ship, you'll launch a special round; complete the goal and you'll unlock fever mode. In fever mode you'll be blasting out a powerful shot killing everything in your path including the magical "jackpot" ship. All the while your score is going cha-cha-ching-chang. You'll blast your way through wave after wave of guys using this pattern of levels and eventually make your way to a boss. Bosses are big bad 8-bit aliens that require multiple hits to weaken and expose a core pixel(s). Once exposed give it a few good whacks with your weapon and it's onto the next set. It all sounds a lot more complicated than it really is, as the entire time you'll find yourself in a trance induced state as the beats bounce, the controller rumbles, and the screen explodes with color.
Co-Op in Space Invaders is identical to the single player, except players share a pool of lives and sacrifice the ability to continue. Each player has their own combo meter to manage, so communication is crucial if you want to maximize score and powerups. You'll find yourself calling - "I got red guys" or "Blue are yours" through out gameplay, otherwise everyone will be stuck with the wimpy single shot cannon. Score and multiplier are shared, so there's no friendly competition here - you have one goal and that's the highest score possWhile it's a bit easier in co-op to mop up the screen, the shared pool of lives and no continues makes it a much more difficult task to work through the game in this mode. After numerous play-sessions we still found it difficult to make it to level 4 or beyond.
So many colors!
With Space Invaders Extreme you'll find classic gameplay mixed up with great visuals and a really engaging soundtrack. The fun co-op mode is just one of a handful of multiplayer modes which extends the life of the game. Space Invaders Extreme is one of those games that are simple to play, yet hard to master.