Out of this world

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 July, 2008, 12:00am

Thirty years since it helped pave the way for modern video games, arcade classic Space Invaders has been revamped to deliver a more intense and faster-paced shooting gameplay.

Japanese developer Taito's new Space Invaders Extreme, designed for Sony's PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS system, introduces bigger, nastier and sneakier aliens to shoot at. As with the original 1978 arcade game, a player's job is to score the highest number of points by destroying as many alien invaders as possible - this time, using the cannon controller at the bottom of the hand-held console's screen. There's no need to worry if you are hit by the invaders; the game simply starts again from the last level you reached.

Space Invaders Extreme has aliens and flying saucers in different sizes and colours, and they are no longer mere cannon fodder. Some have protective shields, attack in groups and shoot with big laser guns. At the end of each level, a player must tangle with a boss alien, who is 10 times bigger than the regular foot soldiers, though no harder to shoot. The game is complicated by the removal of the barricades that were used in the original to protect players from enemy fire.

Players obtain weapons by shooting aliens of the same colour in succession - a scenario called power-up. For example, a player gains an extended-fire laser gun after knocking off four blue aliens in one attack. Shooting four red aliens will yield a cluster bomb while hitting green aliens will release another type of gun.

The combination of colourful, futuristic graphics, new background effects and 2D character design helps the game achieve an edgy, retro look. Its upbeat electronic soundtrack is synchronised with the gameplay, which heightens the tension on each level.

Single gameplay can be limiting, especially if a player gets through all the levels quickly. However, Space Invaders Extreme adds a great new feature: the multiplayer mode, so a player can do battle with a friend. Players can attack one another by sending aliens to the other person's screen. There is also a mini-game, which serves to extend playtime.

Pros: Simple but addictive.

Cons: Gaming on single-player mode is a bit too short.