While there will always be a place in my heart for the original Space Invaders, Taito’s 1978 arcade classic is not the most engaging way to spend a quarter. Space Invaders Extreme, recently released for the Nintendo Switch and PS4 as part of the Space Invaders Forever bundle, is my preferred chaotic and colourful method for defending the Earth.
Space Invaders Extreme has been floating from platform to platform since its initial release for PSP and Nintendo DS back in 2008. It’s a fast-paced reimagining of the arcade game that spices up the action with colour-coded power-ups, special enemy types, combo chains, bonus stages, and boss battles. Familiar pixels explode across the screen as pulse-pounding electronic music plays. While the code visuals are simplistic, the special effects and background visuals are incredibly flashy.
Why do I love this version of Space Invaders while the original game puts me to sleep? I have a theory. Back in the late ‘70s, it was easier to get people into a shooter trance. All Taito needed back then was the steady “Womp Womp” from the arcade cabinet speaker. These days I’m constantly hyper-stimulated, so it takes some flashing lights and music to get the same effect.
I played on the Switch, via my copy of Space Invaders Forever. It’s a $40 bundle that includes Space Invaders Extreme, the four-player Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE, and the first-ever console port of mobile hit Arkanoid Vs. Space Invaders. Extreme is definitely the star of the bundle. Gigamax 4SE sounds exciting, but its main stage is just the original game stretched out to accommodate four players at once.
Arkanoid Vs. Space Invaders is a fine port of the 2016 mobile game of the same name. Built for a phone, the game plays in a small sliver of the middle of the screen in TV mode, which I hate. Rather than firing a canon, in this game players hit bullets back at invading aliens using a paddle. It feels like more of a puzzler than a skill-based shooter. That’s fine, but I’d just much rather play it on my phone.
Space Invaders Extreme is my favourite Space Invaders. It’s the sort of game I can just play over and over again and not get bored. For me it’s enough to justify a bundle including it, a boring multiplayer variant, and a ported mobile game. Your mileage may vary.