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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Taito
Developed By: Taito
Genre: Shooter
Players: 1-4
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Daniel Sims

Imagine for a minute that Tetsuya Mizoguchi (Lumines, Rez) one day decided to design his own take on the most classic of games – Space Invaders, and ended up with a fluid mix between a shoot em’ up and a puzzle game. That’s not exactly how Space Invaders Extreme came about, but the result is pretty much the same. Releasing a deliciously remixed update in the same vein as Pac-Man Championship Edition, New Super Mario Bros., and the upcoming Bionic Commando: Re-armed, is definitely one of the best ways Taito could’ve celebrated the 30th anniversary of one of gaming’s earliest staples.

Although working under the same basic rules – shoot invading aliens before they reach the bottom of the screen, SIE is a far cry away from the black, white, and green spectrum and simple thumping music of the original. What Taito has essentially done is taken a shmup, made it play somewhat like the dozens of puzzle games already on the PSP and DS, and then made it musical in the same way as Rez or Every Extend Extra. The result is a fast-paced, flavorful, and grueling experience.

Through five levels with branching paths, players now have to deal with different flavors of invaders with varying attack patterns and different formations while collecting powerups and bonuses and using a new chaining system to maximize their scores. What’s amazing is how many ways Taito has been able to play around with the classic Space Invaders formula – completely refreshing the game while still retaining the classic feel.

Powerups derived from different color invaders offer special kinds of blasts that make it easier to hit enemies. Bonuses are mostly obtained through new special UFOs that cross the top of the screen when certain combos are made, offering more points, a roulette for more special effects, or even a whole separate round that plays something like a WarioWare minigame which, if accomplished, then opens fever time – a temporary state where players have powered up shots and more bonus UFOs cross the screen.

The variations in enemies and enemy patterns is probably what’s gotten the biggest upgrade and is also what makes SIE’s challenge. Now you’ve got invaders that blow up everything around them, ones with armor you have to shoot off first, giant invaders, ones that flip sideways making them almost impossible to hit, and even ones that multiply. At first the enemies show a lot of variety but aren’t that tough to keep up with. In later levels though SIE starts mixing things up at a much faster pace with more complex formations. A group of invaders in the fifth level might spin while spitting out a near unavoidable wave of bullets – all guarded by giant invaders shooting thick lasers that span the height of the screen to box you in.

The bosses are at once clever takes on the Space Invaders play mechanics and basically giant puzzles you have to solve while dealing with bullet hell. One boss is protected by a giant impenetrable shield and can only be defeated by a powerup offered by normal invaders that lets you bounce your shots off of enemies.

The cleverness of SIE and its newfound puzzle game sensitivity are only enhanced by the musical elements that permeate the experience. While the songs and background definitely aren’t as appealing as what you might find in Lumines or Gunpey, and Taito doesn’t take things quite as far as Q Entertainment might, SIE does manage integrate music into everything that happens within it. Each shot and destroyed invader makes alternating notes that manage to sound harmonious as the pace of the game increases, completing SIE’s colorful yet nostalgic presentation.

Bottom Line

Not only has Taito gone the extra mile to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Space Invaders with style, but they’ve also managed to add yet another excellent budget title to both the PSP and DS’s libraries. If you’re looking for another fresh, quick-fix arcade-style game, at $20 this is pretty much a no-brainer.


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