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Space Invaders Revolution Review

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Developer: Taito Publisher: Mastiff
Release Date: August 30, 2005 Also On: None

The period right after Christmas is a time when new game releases are relatively scarce, and is thus a time when one such as myself who has spent the past few months playing review copies trying to remain caught up can take some time to play some games that he has meant to get around to for a while. As a fan of vertical space shooters, Space Invaders Revolution was near the top of my list of games to get around to playing, and, since it hadn’t been reviewed yet, reviewing. Space Invaders Revolution benefits significantly from a lack of competition, Nanostray being the only vertical space shooter of any significance on the DS that I am aware of. But does that mean that Space Invaders Revolution is worth picking up for the fan of vertical space shooters? Read on to find out.

Space Invaders Revolution is based on the classic arcade game Space Invaders, boasting two modes: classic mode, which is basically an exact port of the original arcade game, and new age mode, which consists of many sets of levels each with their own gimmick and also boasting slightly enhanced graphics. For those of you who have never played Space Invaders, the concept of the game is fairly simple. A group of aliens start near the top of the screen and make their way back and forth, moving down a row whenever an alien touches the edge of the screen and then reversing direction. Your objective is to shoot them all. At the same time, they will be shooting at you, and when you get down to only a few of them being left, they will speed up significantly in an effort to elude your bullets. You lose by being shot enough times to lose all of your lives or by allowing an alien to reach the very bottom row where your ship is.

Graphically, there’s not really much to say. The classic version seems to be a very good port of the arcade game, which, unfortunately, means it has graphics that are woefully inadequate by DS standards. But since it’s an exact port I can forgive the graphical unimpressiveness. The new age version, on the other hand, looks far better than the arcade port, but, at the same time, it’s graphics are nothing to write home about either. In all seriousness, this game probably could have been released on the GBA, which was still very much alive at the time that this game came out. The most impressive thing graphically is the cutscene of your ship taking off before you start a mission, but that’s so repetitive that you’ll get tired of it by the time you beat the game. And granted, the backgrounds of cities look semi-decent as well. But overall, the graphics are not impressive by any definition of the word.

In terms of sound, the classic version is once again an exact port, which means its sound is very bare-bones. Once again, this is somewhat forgivable since a port isn’t meant to change anything. The sound of the new age version isn’t anything to write home about either. The shot sound effect for the shots in the new age version isn’t impressive at all, and neither, really, is the sound of an alien blowing up. The music for the menus and in the new age version though is actually pretty good though, which redeems the sound score somewhat. But the sound is still fairly weak by DS standards.

What I described above as the concept of Space Invaders is pretty much what there is to the gameplay of the classic version. There are a few nuances to the new age version that bear mentioning, however. Whereas in the arcade game you just continue to fight the same set of aliens over and over as the difficulty slightly increases, in the new age version, there are multiple areas, each with three levels in them. Each of these different areas has a different theme, whether it be, for example, that some of the aliens can appear and disappear at will or that the aliens are really small, or that you have big aliens that you have to beat piece by piece. These different concepts help to keep you from feeling that you’re doing the exact same thing over and over even though, for the most part, you still are.

Also added in the new age version are six powerups that can be used to help you eliminate the enemy aliens that draw on special power that you earn as you defeat them. These are reasonably useful, but I found that most of the levels do not require you to use them to be able to succeed, so purists do not have to use them. The ability to choose what order you do the stages in is a nice touch also, but one that wasn’t necessary for the arcade version which, essentially, only had one stage.

All of this is well and good, but the game seems a bit dated. For example, you can only have one shot on the screen at a time (well, unless you use the rapid fire powerup), which is something that’s almost never seen in vertical space shooters anymore. However, since this is meant to bring back nostalgia for an older game, perhaps a small element of datedness is forgivable.

In terms of game length, the classic mode sits at the mercy of how addicted you are to it, and the new age mode isn’t overly lengthy either. It has sixty levels, but one must remember that Space Invaders levels aren’t overly lengthy. So, depending on your skill level, the new age mode of the game will probably clock in at only a couple hours. Add to these facts the fact that there are no multiplayer options whatsoever, and you are left with a game that is woefully short, even for a handheld game, and even for a space shooter since it doesn’t have the difficulty factor that most space shooters have.

There is one other thing missing in this game that, for all intents and purposes, easily could have been here, namely, the Atari 2600 version of Space Invaders. Many people would have just as fond of memories with it as the arcade version, and there may even be many people who would prefer it to the arcade version. I can’t imagine it would have cost too much to license, and it would have made an excellent unlockable incentive for completing the game. Granted, the Atari 2600 version pales in comparison even to the arcade version, but it still would have made this game feel more complete.

What then is the conclusion of the matter? Aesthetically, Space Invaders Revolution isn’t overly impressive. In terms of gameplay, fans of Space Invaders will probably like this game, and fans of vertical space shooters in general may get some enjoyment out of it. However, due to its brevity and unimpressiveness, I would recommend waiting to find a cheap used copy of this game before buying it if you buy it at all. It isn’t that this game isn’t fun for those who care about this type of game, but that this game is too short to be worth spending much on.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 5.5
Written by Martin Review Guide