Space Invaders Extreme Review
XBLA is filled with retreads of arcane arcade classics, most of which have not aged well at all, so it wouldn't be surprising if your initial reaction was to ignore the release of Space Invaders Extreme completely. After all, there aren't many arcade games older than Space Invaders. However, Space Invaders Extreme is not your Father's Space Invaders (or the Space Invaders that you remember). Taito has taken the simple shooter and given it a makeover, perfectly striking the balance between updating the game's graphics and gameplay and preserving the elements that made it such an icon of gaming in the first place.
Space Invaders Extreme has done a good job of updating the original game's graphics while still preserving its original charm. Invaders still march back and forth across the screen and they're instantly recognizable as the Space Invaders aliens, but there's no mistaking this version for the original game. These invaders come in a variety of color and even sizes and the background is a psychedelic swirl of colors that pulsates in time with the music, which is an energetic collection of techno beats mixed with the barump-bump-bump-bump beat of the invaders' marching. There are aliens that are protected by shields and others that explode when hit with one of your shots, and some invaders will even turn sideways at times – and hitting a two-dimensional alien from the side is a tricky proposition. Even the UFOs that would simply travel across the top of the screen in the original game are back, but this time they come in a variety of types with an assortment of weapons, and even have the nerve to come flying across the screen below the invaders' ranks on occasion.
While you're still trying to destroy all of the aliens before their relentless marching brings them to the bottom of the screen, there have been a few tweaks added to the basic gameplay of the original. Remember those newly colored aliens I mentioned? Shoot four aliens in a row of the same color and you'll earn weapons upgrades that include a devastating wide-beam laser and exploding shots. But the rewards for selecting your targets don't end there. The game awards score bonuses for destroying the aliens one column at a time or by shooting multiple aliens of the same type in a row. Pulling off multiple scoring combos will make special saucers appear, and shooting those down will trigger bonus events like Fever Time, a hyperkinetic bonus level in which the aliens come flying through the screen like on the bonus levels in Galaga, and Roulette, in which you get one shot at a spinning group of aliens, each of which bestows a different reward. And if all that wasn't enough, the game introduces boss fights at the end of each sequence of levels. The bosses are giant versions of the invader aliens, but you'll have to figure out how to get passed their defenses and find their weak points.
In addition to the eleven levels of the game, there are a couple of multiplayer options as well. You can play through the game in co-op mode or play competitively in a survival mode in which the last player remaining wins. The survival mode supports up to four players and the game displays every player's screen so you'll be able to monitor their progress during the game. Multiplayer has its fun moments, but overall it's that lone laser cannon facing an onslaught of persistent alien invaders that will hook you. And Space Invaders Extreme will have you hooked for a while as you try to improve on your high scores, and is so energetic and hyperkinetic that you'll want to revisit it from time to time for a fun blast of retro gaming updated for the techno age.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 85%. Arcade gamers will find Space Invaders Extreme to be extremely fun.