As the video gaming industry continues to grow and mature, it’s been developing a legacy of its own and a place in global pop culture. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know who Mario is, for instance – he’s a name as big as Mickey Mouse these days. Probably bigger. Along with this historical legacy comes the need for preservation, and it won’t come as any surprise that publishers are happy to sell you all the history you’d like.
That’s where the Space Invaders Invincible Collection comes in, offering ten different games from the long-running Space Invaders series of shoot-’em-ups (plus a bonus in 2017’s Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders, available as a separate download). What’s not to love?
Space Invaders Invincible Collection comes with an absurd ten games…though, really, it’s mostly absurd on the face of it. A lot of these games play very much like one another – move your ship from side to side and blast at the steadily incoming Invaders, dodging their fire by hiding behind destructible shields. Space Invaders is one of those foundational video games that helped build the industry, so it’d be surprising if someone’s managed to avoid playing at least a variation on the concept.
That’s not to say there aren’t significant gameplay changes from, say, Space Invaders to Space Invaders Part II – the latter adds new Invader and UFO types and, naturally, looks a little bit better – but it’s difficult to imagine that anybody outside of hardcore Invader-heads is going to have a lot of investment in many of the less distinctive sequels. There’s even a couple of odd duplicate games – Majestic Twelve and Super Space Invaders ’91 are the Japanese and Western releases of the same game, for instance.
Despite the granularity of it all, it’s interesting to observe the progression of the series. Super Space Invaders ’91 is a whole different ball game graphically from the original even if it’s fairly similar from a gameplay standpoint. 1993’s Space Invaders DX represents another step up in turn, as well offering some nice nods toward Taito’s other properties for long-time fans of the company.
Beyond your standard Invaders games, there’s a couple of more unusual offerings as well, namely the little-known Lunar Rescue from 1979 and Space Cyclone from 1980. These are tangentially related to the series since they use the same hardware as the original Space Invaders but don’t play like the standard games at all. They bring Jetpac and Galaga to mind respectively, so they offer a little bit of variety to a collection that would otherwise be parched for it.
This is a historical collection, after all, so it’s nice that there’s little informational paragraphs to provide some context. You can also read how-to-play manuals for each game, but it’s unlikely you’re going to need a lot of instruction for most of the titles in this collection. Just get behind a shield, shoot through it and hope. That’s how we’ll save the Earth.
The Space Invaders series is a classic, for sure, but it didn’t really come into its own as a modern experience until 2008’s Space Invaders Extreme. If you were going to pick up this collection for one game, Extreme would probably be that game. It’s Space Invaders taken to 11, with thumping music, crazy backgrounds and wild power-ups making for a game that’s something like Space Invaders through the lens of Rez. This isn’t the first time that it’s been possible to get Space Invaders Extreme on the Switch – that was the Space Invaders Forever collection from late 2020, a budget version of this collection – but it fits just as well with the platform as ever.
Another game from Space Invaders Forever shows up in the Invincible Collection as well. That’d be Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE, which is a pretty awkward name for something that boils down to “giant Space Invaders field intended for four players in co-op.” From a historical perspective, this game is a remixed take on a version of Space Invaders that was originally meant to be played while projected onto the side of a building! As you might imagine, a little bit of majesty is lost when bringing it back down to the small screen. Still, Gigamax 4 SE is still a good time with pals.
The Space Invaders Invincible Collection brings along some cute perks to make these games a little more appealing to modern audiences, such as challenge modes and online leaderboards. You’ve got the option to save and load states in the retro games, for instance, which is a nice touch. Further, there’s a few tweaks available for the older games as well, including vertical orientation, though Extreme and Gigamax are more like standalone releases and play as such.
All things considered, Space Invaders Invincible Collection is a surprisingly generous deal given the existence of a similar Space Invaders collection on the same platform that’s still running nearly the same price. You’re getting pretty much every relevant game in this series and it’s all coming in one affordable package. Being able to have the fantastic Space Invaders Extreme on the Switch might be worth the cost in and of itself, so it’s great that there’s some additional historical goodness on offer as well.