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Space Invaders

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Released: 1999

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Z-Axis

Submitted by: Jack Poole-Fuste

Space Invaders Invade the Third Dimension!!! Well, not really, they remained on just the X & Y axis like the classic arcade game with brilliantly polygonal bodies resembling not the invaders of 1978 but a new breed that is smarter and faster.

Thegame includes over a 100 levels of blasting alien scum into polygonal hell, as well as special Mothership levels, for getting shield and extra points between main stages as well as incredible bosses that make rickety ship run/ hover/ hop/ jump/ hobble for cover. 2 player has been added so that the joy of destroying aliens can be shared with others as well as a classic level.

Then there are the shields which can kill enemies which choose to fly into them, the across screen swoops of the aliens, and the fact that some of the aliens bullets will be destroyed by your bullets and vice versa, as well power ups and new counters and signs which you really should be paying attention to but just don't.

All of this sounds brilliant, and infact it is quite good, but it feels a bit otherworldly (excuse the pun). The ship has been replace by what looks like a shed that limps sideways shooting rockets from a chimney. And the intro movies strange Roswell setting were the protogonist can shoot much more frequently then us, is fairly pointless.

Though this is a good update of Space Invaders and has a new attractive pull to it with the innovative bosses, the 25 years of Space Invaders Game,  Space Invaders Anniversary, takes many of these gimmiks and makes them work a bit better in the Space Invaders 3-D mode in it. So if you have a PS2, avoid this and get Anniversary, if you just have a PlayStation, then if you can find it cheap, you might as well pick it up.

Space Invaders

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Released: 1981

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Atari 2600

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Atari

Submitted by: Ian Marks

Picture the scene…. It’s Christmas day 1981, and I know what I want from Santa. An Atari 2600 with Space Invaders Cartridge. I scan the presents… is there a suitably sized one… there is… I tear off the wrapping and there it is… in all its glory…. A ZX81! My father tells me it’s educational unlike the Atari. Monkeys to education I think, I wanted an Atari.

A sad tale I’m sure you’ll agree, but it has a happy ending. I grew to love my ZX81, it probably created my lifelong interest in computers, and it led directly to my beloved Spectrum. So thank you dad after all.

But how different would life have been with my Atari 2600 Space Invaders…..

I had a glimpse because my cousin Scott had one, and more importantly he let me play it. As a ten/eleven year old I was obsessed with Space Invaders. I would scan chip shops for the machine, and beg to go to arcades when on holiday. To my untrained eye Atari Space Invaders looked just like the arcade version. Clearly nowadays it’s obvious it doesn’t look much like it at all. The Invaders have become hideously oversized and deformed, like they’ve caught an intergalactic form of mixamatosis. It doesn’t sound the same, and because there are less invaders it doesn’t play the same either.

However…. It was a flipping great game. The graphics were smooth, the action fast paced and the Invaders moved fluidly in attack patterns. My cousin and I played it constantly, trying all the slightly different versions you could choose. For a whole Christmas holiday we just gorged on Space Invaders.

In hindsight I think this put me off the game long term. It was soon after that I decided that Pac Man was the new black, and wanted to play that instead.

I have an Atari 2600 now, from a car boot for £2.50, it came with 7 cartridges, one of them Space Invaders. I loaded it up with great excitement. Would it still hold my interest. Sadly the answer is no! In a world where you can play the real Space Invaders on MAME, there is no point to the Atari version, but in 1981 it was all that mattered to my young brain.