REVIEW: ‘Space Invaders Forever’ Or, Maybe For a Few Hours (Switch)

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Space Invaders Forever - But Why Tho?I loved Space Invaders as a kid, particularly the Game Boy Color version. Something about the music, the simple gameplay, and the seemingly endless levels that I could never get very deep into with my limited skill made the game so appealing. Space Invaders Forever, developed by the original company TAITO (now a subsidiary of Square Enix), brings three of the franchise’s twists on the original to the Switch and PlayStation.

The Space Invaders Forever collection includes three titles: Space Invaders Extreme, Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE, and Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders. None of these titles are new and were recently included in a Japanese exclusive Space Invaders Invincible Collection. However, Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders marks the first port of the original mobile game in the United States.

Space Invaders Extreme is exactly how it sounds. It’s extreme. It takes your classic Space Invaders gameplay of shooting flying aliens with missiles while they shoot back at you and cranks it up to an 11. In this high-octane version of the game, psychedelic colors flash in cool backgrounds, and great soundtrack music pumps as you take out waves of enemies. Your shots, kills, and missile intercepts all contribute different sounds to the dynamic in a nice little touch, adding an extra backbeat to the game. These beats are different depending on which track plays in the background. It makes the gameplay much more addicting than it already would be.

A lot happens at once on the screen, though, and while you get basic instructions at the start, it’s still a bit confusing. There are three different types of special shots you can force enemies to drop, each tied to the enemies’ different colors. I surmise you can force them to drop by killing a certain number of the same color in a row. A bar on the right side of the screen, which is hard to see at first since you’re dropped straight into the game, and there are a lot of other flashing lights to focus on, seems to indicate as much. But other HUD aspects have something to do with rows and columns, and frankly, I could not discern what they did.

The game itself has an arcade and freeplay mode; the arcade mode driving you through a number of branching levels that you get sent to depending on your score in each level. The higher your score, the harder the level you’ll be sent to next. There are five rounds but a lot of replayability between the fact that your score is set to zero if you lose all your lives, and there are a number of branches to attempt to conquer.

As fun as Space Invaders Extreme is, Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE is a total dud for me. This four-player version of Space Invaders has a very old-school graphical style and gigantic rows of aliens to shoot. The game had three rounds. The first is your standard Space Invaders with straight rows of enemies and very slow shooting. Then the aliens come down at random and take three shots to kill, each shot making them grow larger. The final round is one giant alien boss battle. You are forced into the next round each time the aliens get to the bottom of your screen.

Single-player, this game has basically no value. Even in multiplayer though, the clunkiness of your movement and shooting is true to the original, sure, but why would I choose to play a clunky game when I can play a smooth one? The music and design are fine, but it really feels hardly worth my time.

Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. I cannot explain why this game comes as an entirely separate download from the other two titles which are packed together. But when I hear mobile port, I expect either time-delayed gameplay or gameplay that requires absurd amounts of in-game currency to continue after a certain point where it tries to get you to spend real money to progress.

Fortunately, Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders sports neither. This game is a crossover between TAITO’s Space Invaders and Arkanoid (a Breakout clone) and it actually works really, really well. There’s a plot to the game; basically, just that aliens are invading and you have to stop them. But truly, I quite enjoyed the gameplay.

Rather than the normal back and forth movement of your ship when you shoot the aliens, here, you move a paddle up, down, left, and right to bounce aliens’ attack back at them or the bricks that protect them. It’s a very creative mashup that actually elevates both game types. As you play through the game’s 150 stages, you collect gold coins for how many points you accumulate which can be spent on single-round powerups or to unlock a number of new characters. Each of these characters is from TAITO’s history of arcade games and possess unique special powers that are activated via falling bonuses. As you play, you must also catch extra time and attack bonuses. Time bonuses are needed because each level has a short time limit, while attack bonuses are useful because, after a certain amount, you get to launch a powerful shot that breaks through enemies and bounces off both walls and bricks.

The levels do get more challenging as you play along. The music is not particularly exciting in this rendition though. And there is one major hangup. The game is played entirely with the touch screen. Since it was originally a mobile title, the Space Invaders Forever port of Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders retains its original controls. In some ways, this works and actually keeps it from being clunky in the way that a lot of mobile ports can sometimes be. However, it requires you to play with your Switch turned on its side. It just feels slightly cumbersome playing this way. I know the Switch was designed to work like this, but it feels bizarre considering so few titles actually utilize the Switch’s touch screen.

Space Invaders Forever is a nice celebration of the franchise. Space Invaders Extreme and Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders are both quite fun and could make for great occupation on a long trip or while trying to kill time. They’re quite replayable and offer challenges in a tight package. Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE is hardly even worth a glance though, and makes the $30.00 price tag a bit hard to justify.

Space Invaders Forever is available now on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

Space Invaders Forever
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

Space Invaders Forever is a nice celebration of the franchise. Space Invaders Extreme and Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders are both quite fun and could make for great occupation on a long trip or while trying to kill time. They’re quite replayable and offer challenges in a tight package. Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE is hardly even worth a glance though, and makes the $30.00 price tag a bit hard to justify.