Space Invaders Forever is less a game and more a handful of remixes of the original great. With a trio of different takes on the familiar formula, Space Invaders Forever may not be the deepest video game title out there – but it is a good deal of fun.
By now if you’re unfamiliar with the premise of Space Invaders, I can only assume you’ve spent the last several decades under one of those barricades from the game and I’d like to welcome you to the world of electronics. But seriously, the core gameplay has always been an addicting one that has seen so many variations over the years (I even played a very blatant rip-off called TI Invaders on my Texas Instruments 99/4a nearly four decades ago). Rows of cranky aliens line the top of your screen, randomly dropping bullets / bombs down on your lonely tank that can only dodge or hide under barriers for coverage, while trying to shoot back up at them to eliminate them. They continually creep down the screen towards you, making it easier to hit them but also harder to avoid getting hit. The tension continues to ramp up until you run out of lives, with several small wrinkles being introduced as you progress.
You don’t ‘win’, you survive and build the best score up that you can along the way.
Space Invaders Forever brings us three different variants of this classic formula. The first is Space Invaders Extreme, which had been released on other platforms in the past. Updated visuals and sound make for considerably less repetition in the audio and flashier graphics right out of the gate. But there’s more to it than the classic gameplay. Over sixteen stages you wind up with much more variety in enemy attack patterns, weapons and leaderboards to encourage you to figure out how to best boost that score. That same ‘one more game’ addictive gameplay that helped Space Invaders become such a classic is still alive and well here, with getting the best score possible still the primary motivator. If you want games with true endings and don’t find high scores a good reason to play a game, then likely none of these titles is going to hold your interest. However, if using different kinds of weapons and learning the nuances of how to get big scores is your thing? This mode should give you plenty to do.
Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE is a somewhat convoluted title, but the core gameplay is actually a very cool twist on the classic gameplay. Instead of being a solo effort, here you can work with up to three other players to try and wipe out the invaders before time runs out. This adds another layer of tension to the core gameplay. The idea is that you get a huge swath of invaders to take out – basically I don’t think you can win this solo – if you don’t play with others, I don’t imagine you can get very far. I think that’s alright, but for those who don’t really dig multiplayer, this mode probably won’t have much to offer. Perhaps there should have been an AI mode that could assist for those who want to play but tend to shy away from multiplayer? Still, the bosses are generally cool and the
Last but certainly not least? Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders. It’s such a cool mashup of two classic video games, as I adored Arkanoid when I was a kid. This is the most bazar mode, but also my favorite of the three. It makes clever use of the touchpad to slide your paddle at the bottom back and forth to knock shots up at the invaders in a brickbreaker style of play that actually works really well. It probably helps that both games had pretty similar structure in their gameplay, but still the merging of these two games is pretty brilliant. It also feels like the devs had a bit of extra fun here with it as you can see some other Taito properties show up here as unlockables (for example from Bubble Bobble, the latest of which I recently had a chance to review here as well).
There’s a pretty meaty mode here, with lots of creative levels to work through. There is one small quibble with this mode, and that it’s a port of the mobile game, so the vertical orientation of playing on a phone versus on a widescreen television means there’s a good deal of unused space on either side of the main / rather narrow play area. Hardly a big deal as there’s been many ports of older games that leave some sort of bar / background on the sides to fill space, it just seems more pronounced here.