Space Invaders (Video Game Review)

Video Game Review
Space Invaders
Arcade
1978
Developed by: Taito
Published by: Midway (North America)

It’s hard to evaluate a game that was published in 1978 by today’s standards (and it will probably be even more so for people in the future). When Space Invaders came out, it was seen as a revolutionary game that dominated the video game industry. It was so popular yet so simple a game that when the sequel came out a year later, the only thing Taito/Midway did was include colour; and that was more a trick than actual software/hardware engineering as they simply put colour filters over certain parts of the screen. Still, playing Space Invaders today is still quite a bit of fun. Graphically and technically it has been surpassed by modern games but, due to a strong foundation, it is still provides for a good time.

The concept of Space Invaders is simple; enemy invaders are coming from outer space and it’s the players job to shoot them down with a ship of their own. Enemies come in from the top of the screen and slowly move their way downward. The player has a few barriers to protect themselves from incoming enemy fire. The game speeds up from one of two things happening: the fewer enemies on screen, the faster they move, and once an entire wave of enemies are defeated, new ones appear and are faster than the previous set (they’re also more vicious with their firepower). There is no ending to the game (until the player is finally defeated); the goal of the game is to get the highest score on the machine.

The game doesn’t have much in terms of graphics or sound. The game has a black background with white sprites. The sprites themselves don’t have much detail; they just look like dancing icons. Still, they have a certain charm to them that makes the game have its own identity (if Taito had chosen to use generic geometric shapes, this game would not be as iconic as it is). There is very little sound to talk about. There isn’t any background music and there is a limited amount of sound effects. The sound effects help break the silence and at least aid the immersion of the game slightly but no one is going to scream from the rooftops how much they like the sound effects from this game.

While it can’t be confused for the best shoot-em-up available, it’s a game that still manages to be fun despite its age. It’s simple twitch action that provides for an intense experience as the difficulty level increases. What makes the game addictive is trying to get a higher score. It never feels as if getting a new personal high score is unobtainable and the pursuit of such a goal can waste plenty of time (and quarters depending on where the game is being played). The game looks deceptively simple which becomes very inviting for unsuspecting players (victims, perhaps?). Getting into the game is very simple but getting out of it is harder. With that said though, those who constantly need to achieve different types of goals or need varying gameplay will have trouble sticking around. Those who can sit still for more than five minutes without needing to experience something from a Michael Bay movie will be hooked.

There’s a reason why Taito’s Space Invaders was one of the biggest arcade titles of all time and that we still talk about it today. It’s a great game although there’s no way they could box it and sell it as a retail game as is. The game is lots of fun in small doses and can be played on multiple devices. Still, there’s nothing like playing the game in an arcade cabinet with a joystick and a fire button. If you do find yourself nearby a Space Invaders cabinet, you’ll have a lot of fun with it. Just be warned, if you put one quarter in, you’ll be putting many more in the machine.

☆☆☆

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