Ever since it's inception in 1978, Space Invaders has been remade and ported more times than I can count. Sometimes these remakes are good, sometimes they're not so good. Space Invaders Extreme, Taito's way of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the franchise, is definitely the best Space Invaders remake ever released, and definitely a must-own DS game.
The premise behind Space Invaders Extreme is the same as it's always been. Destroy the invaders before they destroy you. This time around, however, Taito has taken the age-old SI formula and turned it on it's head, making for an experience that's unique and addictive, while still retaining the retro charm of yesteryear. The one aspect of SIE that I'd have to say is my favorite is just how in-depth the scoring system is. Oh, sure, you can just blast away if you want, but you probably won't get very far doing that. Using a bit of strategy will get you much further, not to mention get you a LOT more points.
For instance, if you destroy four of the same color invaders, you'll get a power-up such as a laser beam, a bomb shot, a wide shot, or a shield. Shoot down two sets of different colored invaders, and a flashing UFO will scroll across the top of the screen. Shoot this down, and you'll enter a "Round". Rounds have different objectives to complete in a certain time limit, and doing so will activate "Fever Time". Fever Time allows you to rack up even more points.
The audiovisual department is another part of the game that I really love. Much like in Rez, everything you do is in-sync with the game's soundtrack. Shooting down different invaders produces different sound effects that blend in with the background music nearly flawlessly. On the visual side, the game is bright and colorful, almost pyschadelic. Honestly, if I didn't know any better, I'd think that Tetsuya Mizuguchi were involved in the creation of this game somehow. The whole package seems to borrow from his "style" heavily.
The game also features WiFi elements, such as multiplayer and a worldwide ranking leaderboard, which helps to extend the game's replayability greatly. Though you'll probably have to do quite a bit of playing before making it very far up the leaderboards. On my first attempt at Raking Mode, I was 573rd in the world. Not too impressive, eh? You can also play two-player matches through either single or multi card wireless play.
The game even supports the horribly underutilized DS Rumble Pack. So if you're one of the few that owns one of those, you can plug it in and it will vibrate along to the beat of the music. Kind of an interesting feature. I'm not even kidding when I say that Space Invaders Extreme is one of my favorite DS games. It really never seems to get old. The audio, visuals, and seemingly simple yet deceptively in-depth gameplay all mesh together to provide what is at $20 one of the best values available on the DS. I really can't praise this game highly enough. Space Invaders Extreme really sets the standard for how a remake of a classic franchise should be done.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.