The first level in Space Invaders Extreme begins like classic Space Invaders, only with a psychedelic background. After the first wave of horizontally aligned aliens is wiped from existence Taito instantly brings in a new set of Space Invaders to focus on. Space Invaders Extreme is fast, but you have a few power ups to help out you out along the way.
Here is a quick run down of the arsenal:
Broad Shot – shoot green invaders to get a multi-shot spread. While it’s easier to shoot invaders with the broad shot using it probably hurts your score. It’s much easier to shoot air with it, which means you lose the perfect shooting bonus between waves. However, the broad shot is an ideal weapon for shooting same color aliens in a horizontal line.
Bomb – blast red invaders to get a square projectile with a blast radius. The bomb works best when trying to clear a small cluster of same colored invaders.
Laser – zap blue invaders to get a concentrated stream of laser energy. This weapon is best used to shoot vertical lines of invaders. Be careful, the laser can be reflected by Space Invaders holding a shield.
Shield – defeat black invaders to get temporary protection from enemy fire.
Power-ups don’t randomly fall from the screen. If you want to get the laser you need to focus fire on blue invaders. Eliminating four blue invaders in a row makes a blue square drop, which contains the weapon. All power-ups are ephemeral. After a few seconds you go back to the single shot unless you can color chain another set of four invaders. You also get a bonus points for color chaining and points are actually important. Besides bragging rights, higher scores unlock harder stages through a branching level system.
If you really want to rack up points watch the flying saucers at the top of the screen. Just like classic Space Invaders shooting these is the ticket to a high score. However, not all saucers give the same bonus. Yellow saucers activate a roulette mode on the top screen, which can increase the score multiplier or grant an extra life. Flashing saucers throw players into an instant mini-game for a chance to activate fever mode. These have specific challenges like hitting Space Invaders while the ship is on a sliding floor or attacking giant Space Invaders while tiny Space Invaders attempt to reflect your laser blasts. Complete the task with in seconds (that’s all the time most of these challenge offer) and you’re in fever mode with a super powerful ship equipped with a bomb with a larger blast radius or a wide laser. While the ultra weapon makes shooting waves of Space Invaders a breeze, your focus should be on the flying saucers. Hitting one while in fever mode makes “jackpot” flash on the screen and bumps your score up significantly.
I mentioned the large invaders in the last paragraph and they aren’t the only new laser shooting threat. Blue saucers do drive laser drive bys. Some aliens sit in a jet powered chair, which allows them to fly out of formation and fire from a close distance. Other aliens that dive towards the bottom of the screen and even if you dodge the approaching invader you lose a life if it reaches the bottom. Occasionally the Space Invaders take advantage of being flat and the entire wave rotates 90 degrees making them harder to hit. Adorable.
Waiting at the end of each stage is a giant Space Invader boss. In the first level the mega sized invader has a rotating shield of smaller Space Invaders to avoid. The key to beating him is “shooting the core”, the yellow colored tile in the center. However, you need to blast through the other tiles to get to its weak point.
One novel boss fight put the boss on the bottom screen while the ship was on the top. You can’t turn the ship, fire downwards or anything like that. The trick is to shoot the Space Invaders on the top screen holding shields. Once they reflect your shots you have to dodge them and hope your timing was on the mark to hit the moving target. During this intergalactic altercation the edge of my screen was my friend.
I realize Space Invaders Extreme came out for the PSP too, but this boss fight felt Nintendo DS specific. Well, I guess Taito could horizontally divide the PSP screen, but that would crowd the screen. Did anyone pick up the PSP version and notice this fight? I don’t imagine Space Invaders Extreme for the PSP being that different, but Taito must have made some changes besides axing wireless play.