Children of the 80s have certain video games etched into their brains. Centipede. Super Mario Bros. Pac-Man. Last, but not least, there’s Space Invaders. There isn’t a child of the 80s alive who hasn’t plunked at least one quarter into a Space Invaders cabinet or played the game on an Atari 2600. Don’t try to tell me otherwise, because I know every one has been to at least one birthday party at Showbiz Pizza or Chuck E. Cheese. Point is, Space Invaders is a classic arcade title that set the mold for both fixed shooters and the shoot-em-up genre as a whole. Somehow, Taito has found a way to breathe new life into its arcade baby and made it just as addictive as it was thirty years ago with Space Invaders Forever. And this time, you won’t need any quarters.
Space Invaders Forever is actually a collection of three Space Invaders titles, two of which have never graced the console scene before. Space Invaders Extreme originally released back in 2008 for that generation of consoles and handhelds (PlayStation 3, PSP, DS, etc.), and its roots from that era really shows. Remember a little game that took the Xbox 360 by storm called Geometry Wars? Now imagine if Space Invaders and Geometry Wars had a baby. That baby would be Space Invaders Extreme, and I mean that in the best way possible.
It may not be as bright as Geometry Wars, but the explosions, power-ups, and music are all very reminiscent of the neon shoot-em-up. Space Invaders Extreme is broken up into various stages, each with several levels. If you successfully complete a full stage without losing all of your lives, your score will post on the global leaderboards. Even if you die, however, you won’t have to start the stage over. You can pick up right where you left off, but you won’t be on the leaderboards.
Considering how much I suck at the game, I’m more than fine not being on the leaderboards. I just enjoy playing and reminiscing to back when games were simple and stupid hard at the same time.
But if it’s nostalgia you’re looking for, then Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE is for you. This game mode brings you all the way back to the ancient arcade cabinet days when four people could play at once, as long as everyone brings their own quarters. Fortunately, no quarters are needed, but local co-op friends are. I dragged my kids into playing and they asked why they were being punished. To be fair, it is really rough coming back to this, especially after playing Extreme.
It is neat to hear the original chip tunes as well, but the nostalgia wears off pretty quickly. As in five to ten minutes.
But it’s the third mode that has me hooked, Space Invaders vs. Arkanoid. This mobile game takes two of TAITO’s most famous IPs and mashes them together. The end result is a Breakout/Peggle/Space Invaders hybrid and it’s DELIGHTFUL.
Since this was original on mobile, the Switch utilizes the touch controls you would use on a phone or tablet and forces you to turn it vertically. It’s a bit awkward to hold it that way, but then you get caught up in the fun gameplay and completely forget about it.
I was terrible at Space Invaders back in the day, and while I’m still super terrible, these new takes on the game make it so much fun, I don’t care how bad I am. I’m glad to have another fun pick-up-and-play title on the Switch. The Space Invaders Forever collection is also available on PlayStation 4, but when it comes to picking up and playing a quick stage or two, it’s better and easier to play on the Switch. The console was made for this kind of game.