Space Invaders Extreme Hands-On

We get our hands on this beautiful-looking remake of the classic shooter series.


Start with classic Space Invaders gameplay, add in the visual stylings of Rez, cook it up with the hot soundtrack of Lumines, and add some Galaga-like flourishes for spice, and you've got a recipe for the upcoming Space Invaders Extreme. We had a chance to check out this beautiful reboot of the all-time arcade classic at the Nintendo Media Summit here in San Francisco this week, and it's looking like a must-buy for shooting fans.

Boss battles look to add a new layer of challenge in Space Invaders Extreme.
Boss battles look to add a new layer of challenge in Space Invaders Extreme.

The first thing you'll notice about Extreme is its look. Sure, you've still got the slightly blocky-looking aliens winding their way toward your cannon, but in the background there is so much more going on, as a constantly shifting background of trippy visuals adds a lot of graphical interest to the shooting that comprises most of Extreme's gameplay. Pile on a propelling soundtrack and it makes for a Space Invaders experience unlike any other. And that's just the presentation.

When it comes to the gameplay, Extreme has plenty of tricks to pull, too. Take the enemies, for example. Instead of merely winding their way back and forth across the screen, the aliens in Extreme move at different speeds on different levels--some will even twist sideways, becoming thinner and harder to hit. In some of the minigame levels (known as rounds), they even fly at you in Galaga-like patterns, resulting in gameplay that rarely feels repetitive even if it is, at its heart, a button-masher. After you finish a round, you'll be sent into a mode known as "fever time," which will give you chance to greatly increase your score before heading into the next level of enemies.

Different enemies have different properties: Some have shields that you need to blast through, others will multiply when shot. Then there are the boss battles, which will pit your cannon against massive bosses that reside on the upper screen of the DS. Based on what we played, the boss battles aren't too bad--they've all got their obvious weak spots--but their inclusion in the game adds some nice variety.

That variety will carry you over to the weaponry you'll be blasting it out with in Extreme. In addition to the standard one-shot laser, you'll be able to pick up power-ups that will temporarily give you the power to shoot multiple shots at once or let loose with a huge laser beam that will take out any enemy in its path. Another power-up we saw gave us a shadow of our main cannon, essentially doubling our firepower in the process.

With the Space Invaders series celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, it's good to see the developers at Taito coming up with a fittingly modern adaptation of the classic gameplay formula in Space Invaders Extreme. The game is heading to the Nintendo DS and PSP on June 17.

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