Developed By: Taito Published By: ININ Games Categories: Shooter, Compilation Release Date: 12.11.20
With over forty years to it’s name, Taito’s Space Invaders has quite the legacy. Much like Namco’s Pac-Man, it was one of the few huge Japanese arcade games to really break out into the mainstream. Throughout the four decades it’s existed, there’s been many takes on the series, from more to traditional to the more abstract. Space Invaders Forever bundles together three of the more recent renditions.
First up is Space Invaders Extreme. Space Invaders Extreme is what Pac-Man Championship Edition was to it’s series. It’s a a slicker, cooler, more modern Space Invaders. It’s fast, it’s satisfying, has somewhat of a rhythm to it all with your shots synchronizing with the music. On the surface it’s pretty similar to the original game. You shoot down colored aliens before they get to the bottom of the screen. However, Extreme changes this up. Originally, the color was strictly for each layer of alien, given to the game by the cellophane put on the screen. With Extreme the color has more of a purpose, giving powerups if a certain number of a color is destroyed in a row. Red gives you an explosive shot, Blue gives you a laser, Green giving a quick spread shot, and Grey giving a shield. You can play perfectly fine and do well without any of these, but using any of the powerups to quickly and easily destroy the aliens is incredibly satisfying. There’s nothing that compares to having the Laser and just plowing through multiple waves of aliens. Of course, UFOs are still in the game, and while most give point bonuses, shooting the odd colored ones or rainbow ones are most worth your while by giving a bonus round minigame that if succeeded lets you go into a fever mode and completely destroy anything in your path with extra points. In a way, rewarding you even more for playing well. At the end of a stage you’ll fight a big boss, which requires it’s core to be shot, which depending on the boss is a bit harder than it sounds. If you perform well enough in a stage, you’re given the option to branch off into a harder path of stages, much like Darius. Once a stage and eventually a path are completed, you get access to play them in free play mode. Given the fact that Extreme started more as a console game (technically handheld), it is much easier for fans to get into and to put down if you can’t play the entire game at once. This is definitely the first game to play in the set.
Next up we have Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE. The best way to describe this game is that it’s more of an experience and that it’s noteworthy for being a multiplayer Space Invaders game. Full disclosure, as this game is local only, I didn’t get to experience it how it should be, but you can definitely see where it’s coming from alone. Starting up, the game is just a gigantic version of Space Invaders, which really shows that this game needs to be played with friends. Soon, the game starts going crazy with the aliens growing bigger, cycling around, and the music starts getting really catchy. Eventually, they all come together to form a giant Alien boss fight, with a massive health bar. This is a task to defeat alone, but it can be done, though the game tells you to use combined shots with friends regardless. I’m split with this game as a solo player. I can fully recognize it is meant for playing with other people and shines with it, but in current times, that’s not the best option. I also need to mention that originally, Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE was a game purely for events and shows, to be played on a big wall as a spectacle. The fact it got a home port is nothing short of incredible and it’s why I love Taito’s recent porting efforts.
Lastly, we have Arkanoid Vs. Space Invaders. It plays like an Arkanoid game, it’s themed after Space Invaders, and it turns out it’s actually a gigantic Taito crossover game. AvS was originally a mobile game, so this mean the Switch is turned to play in vertical mode and purely with the touch screen. Also apparent from it’s mobile origin, is that it’s great at wasting your time and almost seeming luck based. Thankfully, even in it’s original form, there were no microtrasnactions and no stamina to deal with, you just need your patience. While Arkanoid proper would have you knocking a ball around, AvS has you reflecting or even knocking back the shots that the aliens aim at you, which you’ll then need to use to destroy them or blocks around the stages. Deflect enough and you get put into Attack Mode, which lets you aim an arrow that can be used to bounce into places you normally couldn’t, or simply just aim precisely. Beating stages, completing achievements, or just plain finding them, you’ll get coins. Coins can and will most likely be used for items to assist in stages, but granted you’ve played enough stages, you can use them to unlock new characters. Each character has their own ability such as stopping movement of everything but the arrow in Attack Mode, a reflection changing into a piercing shot, even just slowing the timer. It’s fantastic to have a home port of a mobile title, and one that’s physical at that. Another win for preservation, in a world where mobile games just disappear in a flash.
Space Invaders Forever is a fantastic showcase of the modern Space Invaders games. The collection doesn’t really have any big flairs outside of a fantastic title screen and leaderboards, but you’re getting a trio of great (though one needs to be experienced with friends to truly enjoy it) games, two of which are new to home consoles. That all said, if you’re wanting to play the older Space Invaders games, Strictly Limited Games has the Invincible Collection, which also has these games, albeit at a premium and coming at a much later date. Forever is very much a collection for newer fans with it being more modern and it’s budget price. Either way, you can’t go wrong with these collections.