Space Invaders Revolution - Review
By , From IGN | 2008-03-05
The words Space Invaders is, and always shall be, synonymous with videogames. Even to those who have never put a quarter in a coin-op machine. It was the pre-Pac-Man Craze game that everyone played in the heyday of arcade gaming, and its look and sound is immediately recognizable to anyone even remotely into the videogame industry. It's been nearly 30 years since the introduction of the original Taito-published arcade game, and over those years the original concept has been ported and updated on systems starting on the Atari 2600 and moving all the way through the current generation hardware. The GBA even received a pretty fabulous remake from Activision a few years back.
Space Invaders Revolution on the Nintendo DS is the latest take on the classic arcade design, and this update is anything but the revolution the name makes you think it might be. It's essentially a string of Space Invaders levels, complete with the old school look and sound, with slight changes to the gameplay mechanics to spice up the variety. It's not spicy enough, though, and the novelty quickly gets old.
The DS game comes in two parts: the original 1978 arcade game, and the 2005 update. The classic game is exactly what you'd expect: a very accurate reproduction of the two and a half decade old game design, complete with the same black and white pixel art and cellophane-enhanced colorization. Definitely cool in a retro sense, and we'd certainly bitch if a Space Invaders game was released without it. The update isn't as wild a departure from the original, simply lifting all the alien sprites from the arcade game and reuses them for the update's variety of missions. Some challenges put walls closer together to force the alien invasion faster down to earth. Others have the aliens phase in and out to make them difficult to remove from play. Some levels require aliens to be shot in a specific others, while others shrink the aliens to half-size which in turn doubles the amount of the fleet on-screen.
According to the update's publisher, the original game's creator, Tomohiro Nishikado, personally oversaw the creation and development of Space Invaders Revolution. And, yes, it's true that this Nintendo DS game keeps true to the original formula, and doesn't stray too far with wild level concepts -- almost every gameplay alteration in this Nintendo DS game, apart from the visual and audio enhancements, potentially could have been pulled off on the original hardware, and that's admittedly pretty charming for old school gamers. It was clearly trying to stay faithful to the original formula, but even with that said, this game grows tiring quickly because it lacks a creative flair. There's really nothing new here that hasn't been done in past Space Invaders updates, and in fact, some updates have done a far better job bringing the original concept into contemporary gaming.
But did it need to be on the Nintendo DS platform? There's really nothing going on in this game that couldn't have been done on lesser hardware. Touch screen control is limited to tapping one of the six different power-ups that become unlocked after earning a set amount of points in the classic arcade modeˇKcontrols that are duplicated with the shoulder buttons. The game limits its visual appeal to a slight background enhancement to the original arcade game, and outside of a continuously recycled 3D cut scene between levels, this is strictly a 2D game experience. So the short end of it is no, it really doesn't need to be on the DS, nor does it push any "cool" DS functionality. There isn't even any multiplayer option in the game.