Since the debut of the original game in 1978, Space Invaders has remained one of Taito’s most beloved franchises. The series has seen numerous sequels and collections, including Space Invaders Invincible Collection for Nintendo Switch. That compilation is a Switch exclusive, but PlayStation players haven’t been left entirely high and dry. Space Invaders Forever from Taito and ININ Games is an affordably priced 3-game collection for PlayStation and Switch. One of those games, Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE, supports 4-player local co-op, though the single-player games really steal the show.
Space invaders Forever is a low-key collection without much in the way of frills. The main menu allows players to select a game, view the top local score, or view the production credits. Sadly, no behind-the-scenes videos, artwork, or other extras are included. You just pick a game and play it, baby.
The games included in Space Invaders Forever are all quite distinct from each other:
Space Invaders Extreme (2008, Nintendo DS; 2018, Steam)
This mildly enhanced version of the DS classic offers a robust single-player experience. Arcade Mode consists of five rounds, with branching paths and unlockable extra levels making for a total of 16 different stages. Each stage includes numerous waves of enemies (some of which get very creative) and timed bonus rounds.
The basic gameplay resembles the original Space Invaders (though without shields to hide behind), but limited-use power-up weapons like the laser and explosive shot make clearing waves a breeze. Stages culminate in exciting battles against gigantic bosses. Trippy background videos and thumping music contribute to the hyperactive, rhythm game-like feel. Replaying stages in Arcade and Free Play modes to seek better letter grades and higher scores for the online leaderboards adds a ton of replay value.
Space Invaders Extreme is one of the best games in the series; Taito should really port the DS-only sequel to consoles and PC as well!
Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders (2017, Mobile)
In Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders, the eponymous invaders are conquering the galaxy. Humanity’s best chance to stop them is the Vaus, the legendary ship from the Arkanoid series. Thus, Taito has crafted a game that cleverly mixes elements of two of its most popular franchises.
The game consists of 150 short levels spread across numerous planets. In each level, players must use the Vaus to defeat a target number of invaders. The Vaus doesn’t normally fire directly at enemies. Instead, it reflects their shots back at them. Reflected shots can also damage and break bricks, revealing plenty of interesting power-ups or coins for the shop.
As each fast-paced level progresses, two meters fill up. One allows selected characters to use their unique power; the other lets players aim and launch an Arkanoid-style ball that bounces around for a short time. Coins earned from levels can be spent to unlock characters from other Taito games like Bubble Bobble and The Ninja Warriors. Not only do these guest characters function as delightful fanservice, but their powers also add a fair level of customization to the gameplay.
Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders is available as part of Space Invaders Forever and the Switch-exclusive Space Invaders Invincible Collection. The latter exclusively uses touch-screen controls and can only be played in portable mode. The PlayStation version uses the DualSense/Shock’s touchpad to replicate the original game’s touch-screen controls. Sliding the Vaus around with your finger works quite well, though I wish the touchpad was a bit larger. Analog stick controls would have been a welcome option, but the game is still quite enjoyable as-is.
Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE (2018, arcade)
Originally created as a 10-player “event game” for live events in Japan, the home version drops the count to 4 local players. Gigamax 4 SE’s presentation is relatively plain, with no customizable options or additional modes of play. I had a hard time getting the game to actually start on PlayStation 5 as it simply ignored button inputs for a while. Based on my web searches, this doesn’t seem to be a common issue.
The game consists of nine stages, three of which are boss fights. The regular levels are pretty much just traditional Space Invaders on an ultrawide playing field. There are no power-ups or trippy bonus stages like in Space Invaders Extreme. During the arduous, overly long boss battles, players can fire power shots while close to one another – a cool co-op mechanic. Beat the final boss and you get a very lackluster “Congratulations” screen.
Gigamax 4 SE is cool to play cooperatively (and terrible when flying solo), but the game’s short length and lack of leaderboards, powerups, and options keep it from having staying power. Plan on giving it a playthrough once or twice with friends before switching exclusively to Forever’s two much more fully-featured single-player games.
Compared to the 10-game Space Invaders Invincible Collection, Space Invaders Forever is a much less ambitious compilation. This one boasts just three games, but it also costs only $30 (less during sales). The two single-player games are substantial, so it’s not like players won’t get their money’s worth. It’s just a shame that Gigamax 4 SE is such a slight game; don’t buy Forever for the co-op. There are two good reasons to pick Forever over the Switch-exclusive Invincible Collection: you don’t own a Switch, or you want to play Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders on a big screen. Gamers who fall into either category will have a blast with Space Invaders Forever.
A PlayStation code was provided by the publisher for this review.
The Co-Op Experience: Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE allows 4 players to battle invaders together. During boss battles, players can combine their shots for extra power.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.