We’ve probably all played some incarnation of Space Invaders’ established series. Whether you were one of those that fed coin after coin into arcade machines back in the 70’s and 80’s, or you got on board with 2008’s Space Invaders Extreme, it’s almost a household name.
The latest in this long and illustrious timeline comes in the form of Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, and with it, the series shows no sign of stagnation.
The first Space Invaders game I played was on the old Apple IIE – and things have changed significantly since then. With Infinity Gene, there are now numerous weapons, power-ups, enemies and even bosses.
You have rapid fire weapons and a weapon called ‘Search’ for example, which is a kind of homing bullet that proceeds through multiple enemies. Enemies now free-fly all over the place as well, so you need to duck and weave between projectiles and the invaders.
Power-ups and upgrades come in what are called ‘Evolutions’. The game starts off as an almost carbon copy of the 1978 original. Your ship slides across the bottom of the screen and fires a steady barrage of shots at pixelated enemies above fixed to a preordained path. Within the first few stages though, new game play aspects are introduced and you soon find yourself with the ability to move in any direction, or possess weapons of extreme power.
Unfortunately, many of these Evolutions are met with lackluster bonuses – many of them are simply ‘sounds’ (think of these as your ‘collectible’), and as enjoyable and nostalgic as they are, they take out some of the early excitement of getting a wicked new weapon power-up or ship ability.
That’s not to say there aren’t some great things on offer, later on I unlocked a force field for my ship that automatically shoots everything within range. So there’s always a surprise to be had here and there.
You have 30 stages to complete (and you can replay or continue from any point) and try all variations of your Evolutions on. Some Evolutions prove vital to racking up your combo meter if you’re going for that epic high score. Each level introduces fresh enemies and new environments. The game even shifts into ‘3D’ at some later stages, offering you a whole new platform element.
Besides the basic arcade mode (called Normal mode), you also have a mode which creates 99 ‘challenge’ levels – and some very high difficulty Bonus levels. There’s certainly plenty of play time beyond what you might have expected from some of the original entries in the series.
With the addition of all the extra enemies, the freedom to move about the screen and new, complex backgrounds, it can sometimes be hard to tell an enemy projectile from a harmless sprite on the background. Besides that niggling little issue though, Infinity Gene ensures the core of what makes Space Invaders great; the classic enjoyment of shooting endless wave upon wave of alien invaders out of the sky, is preserved. All the while adding a fresh, modern, next-gen approach to a 30 year old franchise.