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Review: Space Invaders Extreme

The moment you boot up Space Invaders Extreme you're backhanded in the face with pulsing lights, crazy techno, and a somewhat gelatinous background. Everything about the game screams retro and "new" at the same time, which is exactly what one would expect of a remake of an older game. Clearly, Backbone Entertainment's goal with this game was to update the 30-year-old Space Invaders formula for 2009, much like Pac-Man Championship Edition, Bionic Commando, and Lode Runner before it. They certainly met their goal, but they didn't produce enough of a game to fully hit the mark.

Space Invaders Extreme isn't very much at all like the original game. For one, the game is much more zoomed in, with both fewer and larger enemies. The game features five stages, which each contain numerous waves of enemies and culminate in an epic boss fight against a huge space invader that takes a small amount of thought to defeat (unlike normal enemies). There is also a four-player local multiplayer mode that's a lot of fun, but I never could seem to get the online components to function. I searched for both versus and co-op matches online several times, but not once did I find anyone to play with.

The game is filled with eye candy, and the way it utilizes the 360 controller's rumbling capabilities to vibrate to the beat of the music is a nice touch. I have to admit, the game got a bit repetitive rather quickly for me, as enemy bullets come down at such a lazy rate that I sometimes forgot they were even part of the game, resulting in an annoying death. The boss battles are a nice change of pace, and through a complicated process of shooting a certain combination of enemy colors and then a certain type of UFO, it's possible to enter "Round" challenges, in which you'll be given a short amount of time to complete objectives like shooting down eight enemies or something of that matter.

Space Invaders is supposedly most entertaining in its four-player mode, so it's a shame that the online component never worked for me. The single player is fun for a short amount of time, and the way the music integrates with the game adds to the quality of the game in a big way. I'm not quite sure that the experience provided by the game is worth the $10 it's priced at, but if you have some friends and more than a couple controllers you might get some kicks out of it. I like and respect what the developers of Extreme did with the game in this update, and it's clear that they're a talented crew. It seems, however, that what was great fun 30 years ago is just a tad bland now, regardless of how much spitshine has been put into the product.

Players:1-4 players

Platform(s):Xbox 360 (reviewed), PSP, DS

Developer:Backbone Entertainment

Publisher:Taito, Square Enix