Nowadays when someone mentions going to the arcade, I think of going to a dimly lit bar, crowded and buzzing from the sounds of games like Donkey Kong or Street Fighter. Zeroptian Invasion could blend in well here with games 30 years it’s senior. Thanks to developer Josyan and publisher Ratalaika Games, we can play this spiritual successor of Space Invaders at home from a Nintendo Switch.
This is not a story-focused game, just know that you need to defeat the bug-like aliens and aim to get a new high score. You control a spaceship that moves left to right and can shoot a single bullet at a time vertically up the screen. Enemies are pre-positioned on the screen and move left to right at a set pace, occasionally firing back at you. You must clear the stage of all enemies before they slowly make their way to the bottom of the screen, which is an instant game over.
You only start with two lives but can grab power-ups by hitting a UFO that sporadically will make a bee-line run across the top of the screen. There are three power-ups available. A force field type shield that will protect you from one hit, the ability to fire at a quicker rate, and the ability to react quicker to oncoming bullets. The shield power-up essentially gives you another life and is by far the best one. Gameplay will feel sluggish without picking up any power-ups, which hurts the overall experience.
After getting through a few hordes of aliens, you are met with boss battles. These are the highlight of the game, as it makes it feel more modern and interrupts what would become monotonous gameplay. Once a boss is defeated, a checkpoint is earned. Now when you die, you can start immediately after the boss fight instead of rewinding to the beginning, like most arcade games of yesteryear. Bonus stages are also met right after boss fights, where you can either pick up more points or avoid the fight and continue.
The design sticks to the limitations of the 80s. 1-Bit colour schemes added to simplistic sprites over a repeating space background. Dead space from portrait mode is filled with detailed drawings of what the aliens would look like if gameplay graphics didn’t leave so much to the imagination. The music does change as the levels progress and fits the overall mood of the game like a glove.
A homage to classic games such as Space Invaders and Galaga, Zeroptian Invasion is geared toward those who love spending time in their local arcade. The simple design and gameplay paired with a chiptune soundtrack make it feel like this game belongs in a cabinet instead of on the Switch. Although not exciting enough to play extensively, it’s always fun to try and get the high score and record your initials for everyone to see. Personally, I’d still spend my quarters on the classics over this release.
Review code provided
Platform: PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 26/04/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Arcade
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop