Space Invaders Extreme tries to take the old school gameplay of Space Invaders and re-invigorate it with new mechanics and other additions, and for the most part it succeeds wonderfully. Everyone, whether or not you played the old Space Invaders, can really dig into and enjoy this version, if you’re willing to get beat down again and again.
The only real problem for Space Invaders Extreme is the extreme difficulty. Like most old school games, this game is really hard. You have three lives to make it through each level in arcade mode and that is definitely no easy task. I could only make it to stage four before I ran into my proverbial brick wall, and could no longer advance. I have tried over and over but I always lose my last life on the boss at the end of the stage. There are some new additions though that make this Space Invaders a little more approachable and add just a little strategy to the old formula.
To start, the invaders themselves are colored now. There are red, blue, and green invaders for you to take out, and each one can offer a very useful power up. Green gives you a burst shot that shoots a line of rounds instead of just one. Red gives you a bomb shot that does explosive damage and can kill surrounding invaders. Blue gives you the best power-up in my opinion, a laser that devastates anything in a straight line above you. Using that weapon can wipe out an entire screen in just a couple of bursts. Holding down the RB button on 360 allows you to save any power you get for use later. To get the power-ups you have to kill four of any specific color and the power drops down the screen for you to grab. Killing two sets of colored enemies can also get you the biggest power up in the game, if you’re good enough.
Doing so sends a flashing UFO across the screen that if you hit sends you into a mini-game for the biggest power up. The game you get depends on which sets of colored invaders you kill. These range from killing a certain number of invaders jumping across the screen, to killing a UFO that is surrounded by moving invaders, most of the time these are doable without much trouble, and if you can pull them off the reward is sweet.
Completing a challenge sends you into Fever Mode. This glorious mode allows you to shoot faster and stronger shots than normal, and always comes with either the bomb shot or the burst shot to use with wild abandon. Trying to achieve this mode multiple times per-level is a nice game within the game, and the reward is always worth the effort.
If you grow tired of the single-player experience, there are also a couple of online modes for you to play around with. The first is an expanded version of the two-player competitive mode, which now supports up to four players. Here you are able to see everyone’s screen on the left side while you are playing. Backbone has also incorporated a co-op mode that allows you and up to three friends tackle the single player experience together. The problem with this is that they do not up the difficulty at all, making it a breeze when four friends are mowing down the same aliens.
Space Invaders Extreme is a great reboot for fans of the old version, and a great place for new players to experience the classic gameplay. This experience easily rivals Pac-Man Championship Edition, which some herald as one of the greatest experiences on Live Arcade, and is well worth the meager $10 price.