Updated: Jan 2
You got your Arkanoid in my Space Invaders!
Publisher: ININ Games
Release: December 15, 2020
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, PC
All right – it's Saturday night; I have no date, a two-litre bottle of Shasta, and my all-Rush mix tape.
OK, if you caught that reference, then you, dear reader, have earned 1,000 GamerHeads points. They aren't really worth anything, but hey, GG anyway!
Space Invaders is the quintessential video game. The granddaddy of the arcade. The “blip heard 'round the world.” I wasn't old enough to see this firsthand when it released, but I was lucky enough to be a kid when arcades were still widely popular. Space Invaders was usually tucked away in the corner of Showbiz Pizza, where games like Ms. Pac Man and Rampage took all the attention. I still developed an affinity for the game, usually spending one of my tokens on it before moving on to a newer title. But still, Space Invaders has a special place in any gamer's heart.
The game was ported to pretty much every console out there – and still gets entries to this day. If you ever wanted to play it, there's plenty of options. And the Nintendo Switch is no exception. Enter Space Invaders Forever, a collection of three Invaders titles available now on the eShop. So is this the classic arcade experience we all remember from back in the day, or is it worth only using one token on?
Space Invaders Forever consists of three games: a port of Nintendo DS classic Space Invaders Extreme, a port of 2018's Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE, and a port of the 2017 mobile game Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders. I'll break down each game and give my thoughts; then on the package as a whole. So let's increase speed, drop down, and reverse direction (yeah, another Futurama reference)!
Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE
So this one is a bit of a mixed bag, and my least favorite of the three. In this title, you team up with up to three friends in couch co-op to take on the invaders. Think of it as essentially a super wide-screen version of Space Invaders with a gigantic, screen-filling boss at the end of each round. You work with your team to take out the enemies, and at the same time, compete for the highest score. This one is pretty bland if you're playing on your own, but where it really shines is in the multiplayer mode. Playing with my wife and son was a lot of fun, especially with us yelling battle manuevers at each other. However, the fun was only good for a few playthroughs. This would feel right at home in the middle of a Dave and Buster's. All in all, it's a fun game, but not much lasting appeal.
Space Invaders Extreme
This one's a beaut. Yes, it's a port of a 12-year-old game, but man does it hold up. It's not a straight port from the DS, though – some improvements were included when it hit Steam in 2018. Space Invaders Extreme feels the most like an evolutionary step for the series. It's faster-paced, the visuals are trippy, and the music makes you feel like you stepped into a rave. Similar to how Tetris Effect added a new spin on the formula, Space Invaders Extreme is a fresh take on a game older than many gamers out there. The goal is still the same, but you get power-ups, there's bosses, and bonus levels. Best of all, there's online leaderboards! So not only do you take on stage after stage of baddies, but you also take on people across the world for that top score. This is quality title that every Space Invader fan should be playing.
Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders
And here I thought Battle Toads & Double Dragon was a quality crossover. This one completely took me by surprise. I know it first released in 2017, but I honestly had no idea it even existed! I loved playing Arkanoid in arcades back in the day. The brick-breaking concept of Arkanoid is another timeless classic, and it makes total sense how well it works when thrown into a Space Invaders game. I'm actually even more shocked that it took us this long to get a cross-over. If you played either game, then the concept of Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders should come as no surprise. You move your Arkanoid paddle-like ship around the bottom of the screen, bouncing a ball back up to attack the enemy ships. If the ball makes it past your ship, you lose a life. Like the original game, you can collect random power-ups to aid you in your battles. New to the series, though, are different characters that you can choose to be your partner. Imagine my surprise when I saw that I could unlock Bub from Bubble Bobble as a character.
Now, while all three games are playable and fun in their own right, there are some concerns I had with the package as a whole. First, the cost of the package is a bit steep. You'll be paying $29.99 for three games. This is a bit frustrating, as Japan got Space Invaders Invincible Collection, which included eleven games as opposed to our three. Also, the original Space Invaders is not included in this. That is a very questionable omission. How can you have a Space Invaders collection without the one that started it all? Finally, Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders is only playable in handheld mode. The game is also fully touch-screen; you do not use controllers at all. You hold the Switch vertically and control your ship with your finger. It works, but it's odd that the game wasn't updated to take advantage of joystick controls or play in docked mode. Finally, I would have loved to see online play in Gigamax 4 SE.
Final Grade: B-
So is Space Invaders Forever worth the price? Well, that all depends. If you're like my dad, who played Space Invaders in between lanes at Burr Oak Bowl in the early 80s, this game is definitely worth it. For those of you who are looking for a classic arcade experience? You may want to wait for either a price drop, or (hopefully) some DLC added. The games are fun and enjoyable, and they do work well on the Switch (espcially the Arkanoid one), and I do recommend it for diehard fans of the series. For the rest of you, I suggest trying out the original elsewhere before grabbing this collection.
Review code provided by PR Hound