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Space Invaders Extreme 2 (DS) artwork

Space Invaders Extreme 2 (DS) review


"After all of the changes that Taito made when it first introduced Space Invaders Extreme, two new modes doesn't seem like enough. Time Attack mode is really nothing more than the opportunity to play the same few stages with a timer running. Bingo is just a scoring mechanism that rewards you for shooting enemies of various colors to fill a board on the top screen. Neither feature is a bad idea. Both of them would have gone well with the content of the previous release and there's no question in my mind that Space Invaders Extreme 2 is the finest in the series."



It wouldn't surprise me if I were to learn that somewhere, someone has called Space Invaders Extreme 2 a revolution. After all, it's arguably the ultimate game for Space Invaders freaks. Without changing anything important that made people fall in love with the 1978 classic, this 'extreme' remake gives the original version a much needed makeover in the form of substantially updated visuals, new patterns and enemies, new weapons, new modes and new play mechanics. If you haven't played a Space Invaders game for the last 10 or 15 years, you're in for a real treat. That's the good news.

The bad news, of course, is that many retro gamers have played a Space Invaders game recently. It was called Space Invaders Extreme and it was released in 2008. Changes to the 1978 formula that will seem so radical to some newer gamers--the weapons, the enemies, the modes and the play mechanics--aren't anything new to the many who fell in love with those recent PSP and DS releases. Those folks are going to understand when newcomers pick up the sequel and rave about how awesome it makes Space Invaders all over again, but they're going to be tempted to ask a perfectly reasonable question: "Did we really need this sequel?"

Unfortunately, the answer for those who played 2008's release is "No, you really didn't." There are some nice changes, sure, but they're not substantial enough to justify an additional investment even when one considers the low sticker price. After playing both games, in fact, I had to look at the packaging to be sure that I was right about what had changed. That's probably not a good sign, especially when the answer I get from doing so (one that matches my play experience) is "Well, now there's a Time Attack mode and you can play Bingo."

I had expected more. After all of the changes that Taito made when it first introduced Space Invaders Extreme, two new modes doesn't seem like enough. Time Attack mode is really nothing more than the opportunity to play the same few stages with a timer running. Bingo is just a scoring mechanism that rewards you for shooting enemies of various colors to fill a board on the top screen. Neither feature is a bad idea. Both of them would have gone well with the content of the previous release and there's no question in my mind that Space Invaders Extreme 2 is the finest in the series.

If you're one of those fortunate newcomers that I keep mentioning, then, you probably won't mind the minor nature of the improvements and new content. That's because just about everything that's here is new to you and just about everything is awesome. The cartridge is easily worth the price of admission.

Back in the day, Space Invaders played just fine on a single screen. You ducked behind bases as your enemies and their firepower rained down on you, then you zipped out from your shelter to return a few shots in the face of the enemy onslaught. There was nothing stunning about the overall experience, but its place in history is assured because it was fun enough and addictive enough to become a classic. There will always be a place in my heart for that original release, but let's be honest: it was time for a change.

With Space Invaders Extreme and now with the sequel, Taito has produced that change. Enemies no longer come at you in a single formation and they're no longer content to march slowly toward the bottom of the screen like robotic snails. They seldom even rely on waves of bullets to eliminate you as they would have in the old days. Instead, they prefer to pepper you with shots that can be avoided with relative ease. You'll almost never find yourself in that sort of trouble because now the game is all about the chase for the high score. It's about aiming your shots carefully so that you can break through your foes of one certain color and collect a power-up weapon that will quickly decimate the entire alien field. Then, in a welcome final twist, it's about showdowns with huge boss ships.

Visually and aurally, the game has changed just enough to feel fresh and cool but not so much that it no longer feels retro. Enemies appear to be made from the same graphical blocks that they always were. Now they just happen to be marching across a distractingly beautiful background. The music is still appropriate, yet the beats bring with them a new complexity that none of the old sound chips ever could have produced. The result is a comfortable blend of the old and the new that should be every bit as welcome as other retro revivals that gamers have recently had the opportunity to sample.

Is all of that enough, though, when so many of the same compliments could so easily have been showered on the previous year's release? The answer depends on your recent gaming and software purchases. Perhaps you've heard for awhile now that Space Invaders Extreme is worth your attention and you've been thinking about taking the plunge and picking up a copy. If so, grab the sequel instead. Or perhaps you've never played a Space Invaders game in your life. Now is a good time to start. Maybe you're somewhere in between. If so, get this game. Actually, I'd say that just about anyone who hasn't experienced the first revival should probably take a look at this second one. Just don't expect another revolution. As revolutions go, this one is a bit too incremental.

Rating: 8/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (January 02, 2010)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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