Space Invaders Extreme hits the Xbox Live Arcade this week, and with it a brand new cooperative gameplay mode. We sat down with Backbone Entertainment Senior Artist Arvin Bautista, a 10 year veteran of the industry with co-op titles like 1942: Joint Strike and Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 under his belt, to talk about Space Invaders Extreme and the brand new cooperative modes.
Co-Optimus: Besides the multiplayer what differences with the XBLA have over the handheld versions? Has the art been redone from scratch for HD Resolutions?
Arvin Bautista: We’ve re-created the assets so that they’re all up to 1080p snuff. They’ve been scaled up to size, but we’ve added smoother gradients and polish as well as a super-sharp, one pixel outline around the invaders – just to make them crisp on everybody’s HDTV’s.
We’re proud to say that our invaders are completely pixel perfect from the original arcade game. At the beginning of the project, we stayed faithful to the assets we received from the PSP and DS versions. However, Taito mentioned that those assets were not actually “pixel perfect” (presumably for screen ratio/gameplay reasons). So they provided us the original sprite sheet of the invaders to work off from, which is now what you’ll see in the final game. It was a blast to see how game assets were handled back then!
In addition to the HD graphics, we’ve also amped up the music and sound effects for an even richer audio experience for your ears, and we were able to match these sounds with the controller’s vibration, to create synchronized rhythmic pulsations making the game that much more immersive.
And last but not least, we’ve added all-new colorful visualizer backgrounds created by Jeff Minter of Llamasoft (known for Tempest 2000, Space Giraffe, etc.).
Co-Optimus: Speaking of visualizers, can you tell us more about these trippy effects?
Arvin: We got in touch with Jeff Minter to create all-new visualizers (backgrounds) for each of the levels. Each level depicts a different stage at which the invaders are… invading. So, for example, stage one’s theme is the universe and space, stage two is above the earth, and the final stage has the invaders arriving in Tokyo at night. Each visualizer is connected to the music so they pulse and shift to the sound of the beat.
The visualizers also reflect the pace of the game, so when the invaders are moving slowly it’s a ‘normal state’ (cool colors, more subtle movement connected to the beat) and when you’re down to that one last crazy invader zipping around, it’s accompanied by an alternate state (warmer colors, different look). Along with that, the controller rumbles in time with both the music and players’ shots; it really helps immerse you in the rhythm of the game.
At first we only wanted one visualizer per stage and maybe one new one for the boss at the end of each level. But Jeff ended up creating so many awesome variants, we decided to plug them all in! So you’ll see levels constantly changing as you progress.
Co-Optimus: Can you tell us a bit about the co-op mode? Is the scoring individual or aggregate between the group?
Arvin: Co-op mode is available for up to four players – online or off. There are two versions: Arcade and Endless.
In Arcade mode, all players share a single screen and score as they make their way through the single player levels. In Endless mode, the levels keep going, enabling players to really go for insanely huge scores… for as long as they’re physically able!