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Oh, arcade games. How many times have you kept me entertained during boring restaurant visits? How many times did you earn me insane amounts of tickets to spend on horrible prizes like sticky hands and water wigglers? Though my personal favorite is probably Pac-Man, I spent a lot of time blasting pixels and saving the universe on the dingy Space Invaders machine in my local Mexican food restaurant. So, imagine my excitement when Space Invaders Forever was passed my way.
Space Invaders Forever is a compilation of three games: Space Invaders Extreme, Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE, and Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders. Space Invaders Extreme is the typical arcade-style of game play. You get so many lives, you take out waves upon waves of invaders until you get to the boss. Of course, lose all your lives and you can just choose to continue (no quarters necessary). You’ll complete multiple stages in the game, each harder than the last. Completed stages will open up in free play mode where you can play through without worrying about lives at all. All you have to do is worry about racking up those points!
Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE has more old-school graphics and gameplay. Just like Space Invaders Extreme, you’ll be shooting lasers at waves of invaders before getting to a big boss battle. It’s also the only multiplayer game of the three, and there’s a good reason for that: it feels impossible without help. I had a rough time playing on my own. The movement of my ship was really slow, as were any shots I fired, while the invaders moved quite a bit faster than I could. Once I was able to have someone else join in, things went a lot more smoothly. This game requires a lot of divide and conquer strategy. It’s definitely great if you have some friends around to play, but not as much fun on your own.
Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders is all the laser shooting fun of Space Invaders with the added brick-breaking action of Arkanoid. This game gives you a platform to bounce the invaders’ attacks off of, letting them ricochet off the walls and back at the invaders (or at bricks around the invaders). Make sure to catch any attack-boosts the invaders drop to fill up your gauge so you can unleash your ultimate attack and take out multiple enemies at once. Each stage has a number of invaders to destroy and a time limit of about a minute. You can earn coins to unlock new characters and abilities to help you reach that gold medal every time.
The visuals of all three games have been polished up nicely, but still manage to keep the original charming, pixelated arcade quality. The real accomplishment, though, is the updated soundtrack. It’s fun, upbeat, and pays homage to the original while bringing a new twist to it. I especially enjoyed the way Space Invaders Extreme seemed to let you “play” the music while blasting your foes, each enemy producing a little chime when hit that turned into a song as you kept shooting.
Space Invaders Forever is a fun compilation of three Space Invaders games, each with their own tweaks and spins on the original’s timeless gameplay. It retains the charm of Taito’s original arcade game, spruced up with a bit of polish to the presentation – especially the music – without ever feeling like a complete remaster. Grizzled arcade vets and newcomers alike should find lots to love here as this is one extraterrestrial invasion you’ll want to give in to; because they may come in peace – but they’ll leave in pieces!