|Game Name:||スペースインベーダー (Space Invaders)|
|Release Date:||December 1996|
Good old Space Invaders. I’m in my early 40’s so I was of a certain age when this game appeared in the arcades. I don’t remember the exact year ’78 or ’79 and I was just about to enter my teens. Playing pong was one thing but
this was man (or teen) against machine.
This was a game that has no radio dial to twist to bat a square back and forth across the screen, this had buttons.
Control was a delight; responsive and intuitive.
The sounds – that background thud, the swish of your bullets, the zap of an exploding invaders, the boom your shooter made when it was hit.
The sights – the variety of invaders – now iconic, the for-the-time high resolution detail of your shelters being blasted away bit by bit – everything melded together into an experience that could be had for 10p.
Its easy to forget what it was like, and too easy for those not around then to take for granted. A genre was born and standards now hard-wired into gamers’ heads were set. Three lives, a score (and hi-score), multiple levels cranking up the difficulty – it was all there and today’s bullet-hell shmups still show their heritage.
There seemed to be hordes of versions of the original in the arcades – I can remember the hacks and bootleg versions that just weren’t as good.
This title gives us 4 of the original Taito versions. That sounds generous but they only amount to varying how the game looks – for instance you can select the version that had green cellophane stuck across parts of the screen, the
image of which was reflected on a piece of glass or perspex which had a cratered planet surface painted behind it (my personal favourite).
There are others I don’t remember like the one that uses 3 different coloured strips – its on offer too – which will no doubt be the favourite version for some others (your favourite tends to be the one you first experienced).
The game is an exact copy – I have no idea if it’s emulated or not – but it looks and feels just like the original to me, and you have to enter credits using the shoulder buttons to be able to play.
The original gameplay features are all there; even the bug that makes the last invader leave pixels behind as it moves across the screen (this happens if the last invader is one of those starting on the 2 bottom rows). You can shot count to get the maximum 300pts from the saucer. You can also take advantage of the fact that invaders on the last row stop firing – a fact that gave rise
to the now famous window technique that skilled players can use for achieving huge scores.
You can also play the 2 player alternate game (called “doubles” where I come from). The title screen is all there with the cute touches like the invader that replaces an upside-down letter in the title.
This game rolls over at 9999 points in the arcade and there’s an option to increase this limit.
You can choose which level to start on and when you get an extra life (the default is 1500pts as in the original).
What this game adds by way of new content is a 2 player battle mode. This is accessed from the main menu and shows the game given a graphical makeover.
The screen is split into two and players race to be the first to clear their mini-rack. Some invaders are coloured coded which if cleared effect gameplay, usually having a negative effect on your opponent. Its a nice mode, not earth-shattering, but adds some value to the title.
The thing is though – the game (complete with battle mode) is one game amongst many you can pick up very cheaply in the new Taito Legends collections available for the likes of the PS2 so this game is kind of redundant now.
However playing both versions of a simple game like this hammers home how superior the Saturn d-pad is to any other controller available ever – it just feels so sweet to play the old game on the Saturn, and the Saturn version seems to fill the screen better too which makes me believe this to be a remake and not a emulated game.
Having said that, this is for completists and/or those of a certain age who didn’t move on from the 32bit generation consoles. You will pick it up very cheaply though.