|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Taito||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
From a modern gamer's perspective, almost nothing is as boring as the original Space Invaders. Some alien blobs inch back and forth, dropping tiny blobs capable of destroying the blob you control. Yawn.
Fortunately, the new DS cart Space Invaders Extreme 2 is Space Invaders in little more than name. This is an arcade shooter for the ADHD generation. Between the hyper music, the crazy backgrounds, the multicolored enemies, the boss battles, and the surprisingly deep mini-games, you'll hardly realize how simple and repetitive the core gameplay is. Despite a few small flaws, this is a great choice for players of all ages and skill levels.
At first, it doesn't seem like there's much to it. The D-pad moves your ship left and right, and some buttons fire, just like they did in 1978. Everything moves faster than it used to, from the music to the relentless waves of enemies, but you can work through it by shooting constantly and avoiding enemy gunfire. Power-ups, including laser and bomb attachments, drop when you kill four like-colored enemies in a row, and by holding the L or R button you can save your current power-up for later use. Each boss battle has its own nuances (some foes shield themselves at various points in their patterns, or even reflect your own shots back at you, forcing you to shoot strategically), but there's nothing too hard to grasp.
The game features a branching selection of stages. You can play the easiest ones in Beginner mode with infinite lives, or you can switch to Normal difficulty, in which you have infinite continues but have to start your current stage (or boss fight) over when you run out of lives. When you complete some of the stages in Normal, you'll be asked to choose between levels of varying difficulty (after level 2 you can go to 3-A or 3-B, etc.), and once you've cleared a stage you can skip directly to it whenever you'd like.
You can play through the levels in a variety of modes, but none of the modes are out of the ordinary: there's Time Attack (clear the stages quickly), Score Attack (get as many points as possible), and Ranking (no continues). When you clear all the stages at Normal difficulty, Extreme unlocks, with unrelentingly tough configurations and new enemies.
All of this makes for a decent game with nonstop action. The stages, especially the harder ones, provide a nice challenge, but there's relatively little of the ridiculous "bullet hell" some games throw at players. The level select and infinite continues make it so you never have to play the early levels over and over again just to get to the later ones. The graphics are great for the DS, with dazzling, colorful images dancing across the screen almost constantly. While the electronica/dance music can grate after a while, the effects work well and actually become part of the soundtrack.
What puts Space Invaders Extreme 2 over the top, however, are the mini-games. Once you learn the ropes, at any given moment, you're not just trying to destroy the enemies on the bottom screen. Rather, you're using those monsters to solve various puzzles on the top screen. For example, sometimes you can complete a Bingo card by killing enemies in the right pattern (for example, if a square is made up of blue and yellow, you have to kill four blue monsters in a row followed by four yellow monsters).