|System: PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Taito||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Taito||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 17, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Travis Fahs
Space Invaders is one of the most iconic names in video gaming. Three decades have passed since it helped to launch the Japanese video arcade industry, and still it is nearly synonymous with arcade gaming, rivaled only by Pac-Man and Mario in its sheer universality.
Taito has tried to cash in on their most famous franchise many times over the years, but it never managed to get the traction they needed to make the series relevant again. They've tried giving the series modern graphical polish with Super Space Invaders '91, they've gone the eclectic route with Space Invaders DX, and even attempted to go 3D with the highly questionable Space Raiders. Each time they've been met with little more than nostalgic half-interest, but not this time; Space Invaders Extreme is different.
This time, Taito has made the old new again without pumping out polygons or reimagining its intergalactic baddies as slimy, tentacled monstrosities, but by accepting what Space Invaders is to all of us: a symbol of old school arcade gaming. Those monochromatic sprites aren't clumsy depictions of complex creatures to us; they're icons in and of themselves. Gaming has changed much over the years, and the mighty monolith that is Space Invaders has become something more abstract than a simulation of interplanetary strife.
So, taking a page from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who reinvented abstract for the modern age with games like Rez and Lumines, Space Invaders Extreme is no longer about depicting an alien invasion, it's a re-contextualization of the classic arcade experience in a rave of swirling colors, melodic techno music, and those unmistakable sprites. Gameplay and sound are inextricably linked, as shots pluck out melodies that weave into the game's music. The result is an interactive collage of sights and sounds built around the most recognizable game of the '70s.
Of course, the gameplay has been rethought for a new generation of gamers, most of whom, like me, weren't even alive when the original descended on arcades. That doesn't mean it has incorporated modern conventions, but the flow of the game has been rethought considerably, and a few layers of complexity have been added at the expense of some of the challenge and raw intensity that might make the original unwelcoming to today's players.