You take games too seriously.

Early to the Party: Space Invaders Extreme

Awesome down to its Turkish-rug box art.

There are few things nerdier than importing a game. It’s either to buy something before everyone else, relying on GameFAQs for rough translations of the Japanese and puzzling through the non-localized weirdness, or to buy something you can’t get in the US, because you just can’t get a good Witch-fondling game at your local GameStop.

Sometimes, though, it’s totally worth it. Sometimes there’s that game out there that you need, no matter the cost, no matter the absurdity of paying twice as much to get it a month or two early. For me, that game is the stellar Space Invaders Extreme. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, jump to it.

Like Pac-Man: Championship Edition, its spiritual predecessor (and a game I’d shortlist for Best Game Ever), this isn’t just a port of the game for a new system. Because there have already been four or five of those for Space Invaders on the DS alone. This is a refinement, a reimagining, taking the spirit and the core mechanics of the original and expanding them with an inventiveness that borders on sacrilege.

For Space Invaders Extreme, that means jettisoning the one thing that most identifies Space Invaders’ gameplay – the defensive shields that line the bottom of the screen. With those gone, the game switches over into fast-paced, powerup-heavy shooting with a sole emphasis on moving back and forth and shooting things. In fact, if it weren’t for the sprite art (those iconic pixelated bad aliens – including, far more frequently than in the arcade, the bonus UFO), it would be easy to mistake for Galaga.

That’s what I love about Pac-Man: CE and Space Invaders Extreme – they take thrilling mechanics from the next-gen and the retro games, marry them with style, sound, and a shocking variance of play modes, and create something instantly familiar but infinitely challenging. 

Pac-Man will be fun forever, which is more than I could really say for Space Invaders – a game that has been improved upon, specialized upon both by railed, top-down space shooters and the back-and-forth action of a thousand casual internet games. Which is why it’s a stunning accomplishment that Space Invaders Extreme is so damn good.

Walk, don’t run, as soon as the game drops. Or, join me in importing, for the gimmicky (don’t count on the people who say it’s essential – those people are the worst kind of game importers) paddle controller – infinitely important if you love throwing your money away on gimmicky controllers.

Wait, why exactly isn’t Taito bringing the paddle controller to the US?

 – Sam Ryan


Filed under: Commentary, Portable Media, Retro Today, Reviews, , , , , ,

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this is a blog about video games by chris plante, sam ryan and chris littler.

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