The mid 70’s to late 80’s proved to be a very challenging time for video games, as it came into the spotlight during a time of transition from one era to the next. Taito, a notable company from Japan who helped to shape the industry that is today, struggled to find a target market that would help to sustain the company over the long term. They needed something that stood out in such a way that it would help generate attention but also market share. So in 1978, Tomohiro Nishikado created an arcade shooter that was based around shooting down alien invaders, while avoiding their counter attacks.
Thus, Space Invaders was created and spawned a new wave of fans from all around the world who took to the once barren arcades, and helped to revolutionize gaming as a whole. Space Invaders has become an iconic title and many games of today have taken much of their inspiration from Nishikado-san’s exemplary talent, and helped the console industry flourish in a major way. Atari saw a massive boom in sales while arcade owners stood in astonishment as quarters filled their cabinets like water to a cup. Fast forward to 2018 and Degica Games, along with Taito, has brought back the Space Invaders brand to a new generation in the form of Space Invaders Extreme, and it’s a fantastic rendition of the title that helped reign in a new era.
What to Expect
Anyone who grew up in the early era of games will surely find Space Invaders Extreme to be a nostalgic treat as it retains much of its addictive gameplay from the classic iteration but throws in a plethora of perks that’s attractive to both the retro junkie and the new faces who are curious to try something fresh. The aim is pretty simple and that’s to shoot down every alien spaceship that flies across the screen, and by matching your weapon colors to that of the enemy will net you bonus points over time. All of it seems quite easy but once you truly dive into the game, you’ll come to realize that Space Invaders Extreme is far from a walk in the park, and much like it’s early predecessor you’ll be finding yourself hooked non-stop for hours on end (luckily for you there aren’t any quarters or tokens to be used).
Much of the visual aesthetic has been greatly improved to help match with the current times, as well as the audio to create a more stimulating experience while playing. The sound is all interactive with stunning visuals that hit you simultaneously for an extraordinary display. A new world ranking system has also been put in place so that you can aim for the top spot while showing off just how god like you are at the game. 16 challenging stages which will have you sweating, while boss battles will constantly change attack patterns based on the difficulty setting. There’s a lot in store for those willing to take a shot, so let’s cover things a little more in the gameplay.
As with any arcade shooter your main goal is to try and accumulate as many points as possible to reach a high score, but in doing so, you must avoid death as it resets your meter. In Space Invaders Extreme, you have Arcade Mode and Free Play Mode, with the latter becoming available once you clear portions of the Arcade. So much like it’s true Arcade cabinet brethren, your goal is to stay alive for as long as you can, working your way up through each stage until you can successfully clear everything. Once you die, your score is tallied and you’ll have to eventually start again, which sounds pretty disheartening, but when you think about the number of quarters and lunch money you’re not risking, it’s no big deal. The golden point about Space Invaders Extreme is that there’s an insane amount of replay value since you’re constantly trying to better your own high score, but also, you’re trying to overtake someone else in the process. All of this mixed together creates a truly thrilling experience because every failure you run into is just another thing to learn from, which ultimately helps you to better tackle boss fights or come up with bigger bonus achievements.
All of this is thrown at you at once and so in a way, the game teaches you a wide variety of cognitive skills that can be used in everyday life. One, for example, is hand-eye coordination and reacting to what’s happening on screen. Another benefit is patience and learning to focus on the target without losing track of things. So many of us suffer from ADHD that in most cases we can’t even watch a video without moving onto some other project. Space Invaders Extreme really helps to build a high level of concentration which eliminates any external distractions, and so your brain can focus entirely on the mission. There’s a lot happening on screen, especially in different colors, and so knowing which alien to attack in order to accumulate bonus points and which to avoid becomes another fun aspect of the game. Hidden bonuses are thrown at you endlessly and so keeping an eye out for them can really help to generate higher scores and put you at the top of the world ranks.
One great trait that never existed in the original was having the opportunity to practice individual stages and improve your score on that particular level. It was do or die back then and so, whatever money you lost went to the arcade owner, who rubbed their hands together in a devilish fashion, laughing at your continuous failures while they rake in the cash. Fortunately, that isn’t the case here as you can now practice for as long as you please and develop enough reaction time to perhaps clear a stage that gave you a ton of trouble. Each wave gets progressively harder and faster and so creating too many mistakes just leads to starting over again, which can be a good thing or hell depending on how you look at it. Be that as it may, Space Invaders Extreme doesn’t try to go too far outside of its realm, and provides you with fresh experiences along with fresh music to keep the action flowing.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
We had an absolute blast with Space Invaders Extreme because it not only created a profoundly endearing experience, but also, because it stays true to its roots. A lot of games try to take on new endeavors which ultimately leads to somewhat meager results, but Space Invaders Extreme knows what it’s good at and for that we have all the respect for it. It’s by no means a groundbreaking title by today’s standards but if it weren’t for its inception in the late 70’s to mid 80’s, we certainly would not have all of the great titles that currently exist so we should give credit when it’s due.
16 challenging levels that truly test your abilities.
Great music selection.
Stays true to the Space Invader roots.
A little lacking in bonus content.
Honey's Final Verdict:
If you’re a retro junkie like we are and need a quick fix then Space Invaders Extreme will surely hit the spot right away. It reminded us of just how far we’ve come in the game industry but more so, it really lets us know that you don’t need fancy graphics or a crazy plot to keep you hooked for hours. As the great Leonardo di Vinci stated, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!