Space Invaders Forever bundles three of the property’s more interesting moments. A few missteps mar an otherwise respectable effort.
Platform: Switch, PlayStation 4
Publisher: ININ Games
Release date: December 15th , 2020
Availability: Physical and digital
Price: $29.99 via eShop, PlayStation Store
42 years later, it’s all too easy to overlook Tomohiro Nishikado’s contribution to popular culture. But the engineer’s most remarkable creation, Space Invaders, would stimulate the proliferation of arcades, quadruple Star Wars’ box-office grosses, as well as inspire industry luminaries like Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima. While the rumor that the game led to a shortage of 100-yen coin in Japan might be urban legend, few would argue about the game established the foundations of the shooter genre.
Despite Space Invaders’ substantial influence, Taito struggled to replicate the success of the original game. Mid-nineties sequels like Space Invaders DX and Space Invaders ’95 incorporated sprites from other Taito titles, offered two-person cooperative play, and introduced boss battles. But it wasn’t until 2008’s Space Invaders Extreme that the franchise truly become invigorated. That title, along with two others form the basis of Space Invaders Forever. It’s an anthology that demonstrates several highlights for the seminal series. But regretfully the tribute is tarnished by a few imperfections.
For Cooperative Teams Only
Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE is the entry that best recalls the original 1978 hit. It’s a port of a time exhibit from 2018’s “Play! Space Invaders” which broadcast the game on the walls of the Tokyo City View observatory. Here, the multiplayer aspect has been scaled down from ten to four players. Woefully it’s limited to local participants. As a solitary experience, the spacious playfield dwarfs your tiny ship, making progress painfully slow.
But with a quartet of partners the title truly shines. Here, teams tackle formations of invaders across a succession of stages that should take about 30-40 minutes to compete. While the game’s visuals recreate the same pixeled ship, barriers, and enemies, the fights bring a number of new developments. The most remarkable is an offensive shot that grows in power when player ships are adjacent to each another. As such, coordination is needed for success, especially against boss battles against an enemy that fills that playfield. Just make you’ll need to have friends with their own copy of Space Invaders Forever before getting excited for Gigamax.
Enjoyment to the Extreme
Soloists will likely find more enjoyment with Space Invaders Extreme. Originally released for the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS, Taito’s title makes a pleasing addition to the Switch’s library. In keeping with tradition, the player controls a canon that shifts left and right, while shooting skyward at enemies. But here, psychedelic visuals, an energetic electronic score, and shot enhancements provide distinction. Shoot four consecutive enemies of the same color and a power-up will drop from the sky. Grab, for example, a blue one, and you’ll temporarily fire a powerful laser beam that can sear through invaders.
Destroy two sets of similarly colored aliens and a UFO will make it away across the screen. Shoot it, and you’ll be able to tackle a bonus round, where you’ll face challenges like eliminating a specific number of adversaries in a brief time span. Success pushes players into Fever Time, where they’re offensive output is boosted even more. As such, there’s a strong sense of momentum in each game. If maintained, the offensive output can help you through Exteme’s branching procession of stages. Sadly, the multiplayer mode that made it into the Xbox 360 iteration is nowhere to be found.
A Modest Mobile Port
Undoubtedly, Space Invaders Forever’s least ambitious element is the inclusion of Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders. Sure, it’s an engaging effort, with the paddle-like craft known as the Vaus repelling enemy shots instead of keeping the ball in play. The object here is to remove all the invaders from each stage before the timer expires. Fortunately, you’ll receive an abundance of help. Some stems from optional power-ups you can select before a stage. Other assistance is found in a meter, that when filled, activate each character’s special ability, which can turn the tide for you. Like Arkanoid, you can also expect a steady shower of power-ups to rain down from above.
So, what’s the downside? Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders is a pretty plain port of the original mobile title. That means you’ll be forced to hold your Switch vertically and direct the Vaus with your finger. While this light be fine for Switch Light, playing on a regular Switch can lead to sore wrists. Regretfully, there’s no option for docked mode play or any other control method except for touchscreen use. Still, it’s hard to shake the celebratory feel here, with Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders boasting 40 forty different Taito characters. And if you’re looking for storyline in the franchise, this is one of the few places you’ll find it.
Given Space Invader’s renowned place is game history, the title undoubtedly deserves memorization. Forever is a respectable package, compilating a trio of the property’s noteworthy efforts. But each of the three entries contain at least one issue that any retro aficionado will definitely notice. None of these are glaring enough to avoid adding the compilation to your collection. But like the game’s UFO that has drifted by for decades, these setbacks can be hard to ignore.
Space Invaders Forever was played on Switch with
review code provided by the publisher.