Remakes of retro titles on the Xbox Live Arcade are a very common occurrence with Galaga, Pac-Man and, more recently, Bionic Commando receiving a makeover. Now, thirty-one years on from its original release, Space Invaders Extreme has invaded the Xbox Live Arcade.
The concept of Space Invaders Extreme is the same as the original with players controlling a spaceship which can move horizontally left and right along the foot of the screen, with aliens – known as space invaders – occupying the remaining space. The aim of the game is for players to eliminate all the space invaders. Losing all your lives, results in game over.
Space invaders come in different sizes and colours, with some proving to be a lot tougher than others. The bigger the invaders, the more shots they take to defeat. The colour of a space invader can help determine what power-up appears, as once a four colour combo has been achieved by eliminating four of the same colour invader in succession, the power-up drops to the bottom of the screen ready to be collected by the spaceship. Upon collection, players have a certain time period of around ten seconds in which to use the power-up. Power-ups can definitely prove to be very advantageous and have been implemented well into the game so that more-skilled and precise players will be able to obtain more, though the more novice gamers will be also be able to obtain them as well.
Before continuing with the review, I must point out that it took me a while to get into Space Invaders Extreme. This was probably down to the fact that most Xbox Live Arcade re-makes have been disappointing and were not worthy of playing. Thankfully, Space Invaders Extreme has changed my perspective on them, and once I truly started playing, I was mesmerised.
Possibly one of my favourite features of the game is the graphics and audio, which can only be described as a package of retro-goodness. Yeah, they aren’t fantastic, they don’t make your jaw-drop and they certainly don’t bring out the best of your high-definition television and surround sound, but Backbone Entertainment have captured the ever-so-familiar two-dimensional formality, we’ve witnessed throughout the game’s long history.
I was also pleased to see that the game has the same pick-up-and-play style we all love with only the use of the left thumbstick and the A button throughout the entirety of the game. How about that for keeping things simple!?
Also keeping things simple is Space Invaders Extreme’s Arcade game mode which gamers are likely to spend the majority of their time on, aiming to play their way through the game’s many stages. The game mode has been re-created and re-envisioned from the original, with each stage starting off relatively easy before the difficulty increases with progression. Enemies become harder to defeat and with plenty of ammunition flowing in both directions, it really can get hectic; another of the game’s many alluring features.
There are two other game modes in Space Invaders Extreme, both of which are multiplayer. They are Survivor and Score Attack. Locally and online, either game mode can be played in co-op mode or versus with up to four players.
Survivor mode sees players playing through the game’s levels, in order to distinguish how long they can survive for. The winner is the player who lasts longest. The game mode plays out really well though there are two major flaws. The seemingly most obvious one is that games can last for long periods of time, depending on player skill and that the way in which the screen is split, makes the playing field a lot smaller than you would expect as too larger gaps are present at both the top and the foot of the screen. This isn’t a problem when you’re playing with four players, but anything less and it can get a bit awkward.
Score Attack mode on the other hand, is flawless and furthermore, it’s fun. With all the participants battling out on one large screen, fighting over the power-ups and attempting to put each other off in order to score as many points as possible, Score Attack is a great addition to what was already a decent title.
Unfortunately, Space Invaders Extreme has a similar problem to one witnessed in the majority of Xbox Live Arcade titles, with no-one actually playing the title online which is a shame as it is a fun experience.
Finally, the inclusion of bonus rounds proved to be a worthy addition. Bonus rounds are unlocked by firing at specific UFOs as they pass through the playing field, which temporarily pauses the game and a bonus round is played out. Successfully completing the bonus round which range from eliminating a certain amount of invaders to collecting a certain amount of gold blocks, unlocks a power-up or special game mode in which points can easily be racked up.
To conclude, Space Invaders Extreme is extremely good. It’s one of the better re-makes on the Xbox Live Arcade though the lack of game modes is a slight disappointment, despite the fact that the ones evident in the game do a great job of keeping players entertained. Whilst the 800 Microsoft Point price tag may be a little too high for the content on offer, it certainly isn’t too high for the fun it provides.