Space Invaders Revolution is aimed squarely at fans of the original game and doesn't go overboard to modernize the classic formula.
- Two games in one
- New weapons and aliens make the remake fun
- Perfect emulation of classic Space Invaders.
- Both games feel old
- Can finish remake in a couple of hours
- Graphics and audio are not DS quality.
Mastiff's value-priced Space Invaders Revolution is a no-frills celebration of the classic Taito arcade game that helped launch the industry that now consumes many hours of our lives. The game card includes the original 1978 Space Invaders and a new-age remake, which takes the original's gameplay and fleshes it out with new power-ups, multiple mission goals, and upgraded graphics and audio. Despite those upgrades, the remake is still fairly rudimentary compared to today's modern shoot-'em-ups, so this two-game pack is best enjoyed for its historical merit rather than as a must-have addition to your Nintendo DS game library.
When it came out in 1978, Space Invaders truly did spark a revolution. Kids and adults alike became hooked on the simple yet challenging space shoot-'em-up with the blocky black-and-white graphics. It seemed so easy at first glance: Just move the cannon at the bottom of the screen left and right and shoot the rows of aliens before they land. But while the controls were easy, the game itself wasn't. The aliens shot back. Nastier still, every time you destroyed one, the remaining aliens would move faster and shoot more frequently. All of this stuff is old hat now, but back then it was fresh and innovative. Taito even colorized the game a few months after its initial production run...sort of. It stuck cellophane overlays onto the glass to make it look like the aliens were changing colors as they moved down the screen.
The classic version of Space Invaders included on this game card is a perfect reproduction of the arcade game. A side-by-side comparison between the DS version and an arcade cabinet reveals that aspects such as alien movement patterns, movement speed, and shot frequency are identical. Alien color schemes match those found in a cellophane-detailed arcade cabinet. Since the DS has fewer vertical lines of resolution than an arcade monitor, the strips containing the score and the lives counter were cut away from the playing field on the upper screen and moved onto the lower touch screen. That's the only difference between this version of classic Space Invaders and the original arcade game.
Tomohiro Nishikado, designer of the original Space Invaders, supervised the DS game's development, so it's no wonder the classic version is pixel perfect. That also explains why the remake improves upon the original game in numerous ways without significantly changing the underlying play mechanics. The basic formula still involves rows of aliens up top and your cannon at the bottom. As in the original arcade game, the cannon in the remake can be moved only left and right. Now though, there are 20 different cities to visit, various enemies and bosses to shoot at, and six weapon power-ups to take advantage of. None of the power-ups are overpowered, but they're all pretty useful. You can wrap the cannon in an energy shield, activate rapid fire, use a laser beam that can take out an entire column of aliens, attach two support cannons to the side of your main cannon, stop the movement of the aliens, and speed up the cannon so that it moves faster. Power-up use is limited by an energy meter, which gradually drains when they're used and is refilled a bit between rounds. Multiple power-ups can be activated and combined, but they'll eat up energy more rapidly. These additions are nice and provide a new way to experience the classic Space Invaders formula, but they don't bring the game up to the level of a modern shooter, such as Nanostray.
The remake also incorporates a few graphical and audio improvements and makes use of the unit's touch-screen capability, at least to a point. Graphical upgrades in the remake include photographic backgrounds, multihued aliens, and large multisegmented bosses. The Game Boy Advance could have easily handled those nuances though. The only time Space Invaders Revolution flexes the graphical muscle in the Nintendo DS is during a brief 3D takeoff sequence that plays in the lower screen whenever you select a level. Gameplay is shown in the upper screen, while the lower screen shows score readouts and touch-screen choices. Peppy music and a variety of digitized laser and explosion sound effects provide the remake's soundtrack. They're not earth-shattering, but they're a big improvement from the zero music and two sound effects of the original game. Like so many other Nintendo DS games, this one makes modest use of the unit's touch screen. Optionally, you can use the stylus to select levels and activate power-ups in the new-age version and use it to steer and fire the cannon in the classic version. The directional pad and buttons accomplish the same actions, however, and they're significantly more responsive than the stylus.
There's nothing spectacular about Space Invaders Revolution. The gameplay, the graphics, and the audio all feel a bit dated, even in the new-age remake, but perhaps that's the point. This Nintendo DS game card is aimed squarely at fans of the original game and doesn't go overboard to modernize the classic formula.