Back to Invade your Space again!
Originally released in 1978, Space Invaders started a genre most gamers are at least fairly familiar with. When I was wee lad, we called them shooters. This was, of course, before first and third-person shooters were really a thing. Then they became known as shoot ‘em ups. Nowadays, most people lovingly refer to them as shmups. 43 years later, this genre hasn’t slowed down. And it all started with Space Invaders.
Space Invaders: The Invincible Collection chronicles this series of games across its decades-long history with 10 titles all emulated perfectly. First off is, of course, the original 1978 Space Invaders in black & white. I’m sure I don’t have to explain this version of the game. Most people have either played or at least seen this version played. Rows of aliens descend on your little tank while you fire upwards to clear them out before they make landfall. Minimal, simple, and fun. And the second title is literally no different. Well… with one exception; it’s in colour! Yep. Space Invaders: Color Version is just that. Same gameplay, same graphical style, just in colour.
Next up is Space Invaders II. There’s really not a whole lot different between this version and the original and colour versions. The ability to enter initials on a high score board, some different enemy tactics, and some primitive cutscenes. By today’s standards, this wouldn’t even qualify as a sequel, but for its time, this was pretty big. Of these first 3, Space Invaders II is definitely the one to play.
And next, we have two spin-offs of the series: Lunar Rescue and Space Cyclone. It’s been a while since I played Lunar Rescue and I forgot just how much fun it is! You start by descending from the mothership and landing on the surface to rescue a human. You then fly back up to the mothership while fighting enemy spaceships (and sometimes avoiding asteroids). Plenty of fun to be had.
Space Cyclone… eh… not quite so much. While not necessarily a bad game, it’s less of a unique experience than Lunar Rescue. The concept is similar, but the attack patterns of the aliens are different. Also, when the enemies reach the ground, instead of you losing a life, they build a part of a giant robot. Once the robot is complete, you will have to avoid its onslaught of attacks. This game does include voices, but that could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing. While it was a leap from a technological standpoint, it was very minimal, which means it was also very repetitive. Hearing “Weeee’re coming! Weeee’re coming!” is only novel the first couple of times. After about a dozen times, it starts to grate on the nerves a bit. And the “Gotcha!” whenever you get hit by an enemy just kind of rubs it in your face.
Next are two versions of the same game; Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV and Super Space Invaders ‘91. The latter is the Western release of the game and it features faster, more modern gameplay than the previous entries, along with power-ups to help you along the way, and a two-player mode. It’s more streamlined than the former to appeal to more Western audiences at the time. Majestic Twelve features more modern graphics and the ability to choose your path through the game. I prefer the Japanese release myself, but you can’t really go wrong with either game.
The next game is Space Invaders DX. Initially, this seems very much like a callback to the original games, but there are a couple of extra modes that separate it from them. Parody Mode offers up a twist by mixing in characters from other Taito games. I’m always a sucker for little nods like this, so I thoroughly enjoyed this mode. It also offers a two-player, split-screen VS Mode which can be a lot of fun with friends.
Speaking of fun with friends, Space Invaders: Gigamax 4SE is an up to 4 player, widescreen take on the series that adds more stage variations and boss fights. It also allows you to join your ships together to fire bigger shots that cause more damage. And did I mention the awesome soundtrack by Taito’s in-house band, Zuntata? While it is possible to play single player, Gigamax 4SE is definitely made for a multiplayer experience.
While technically, Gigamax 4SE is the last title in the collection, I saved Space Invaders Extreme for last because it’s definitely THE reason to own this collection. Originally released on handheld and then ported to Xbox 360 and Steam in HD, this is an enhanced and modernised take on the core game adding much faster gameplay, power-ups, weapon pickups, more advanced enemy types, huge boss fights, and a fever mode to skyrocket your score! There are some crazy background and strobe effects, so for anyone that may be affected by these kinds of things, take caution.
If you fancy yourself a retro or nostalgic gamer, Space Invaders: The Invincible Collection is definitely for you. While it is a bit on the pricey side (sitting at $59.99/£54.99 on the eShop), there’s plenty to experience if you enjoy chasing high scores. Which I forgot to mention, there are online leaderboards to compete with people all over the world. So, if that’s your cup of tea, definitely check out this collection.
Review code provided
Release Date: 17/08/2021
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: Arcade, Action
Publisher: ININ Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop