Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Space Invaders: Fukkatsu no Hi


I didn't like Space Invaders even back when it was "all the rage." There just wasn't enough speed, strategy, or spontaneity to the SI experience. I guess I never quite got the alleged "quaint" appeal of the slow, dull manner in which the stick-with-their-partners aliens proceed with their "invasion"; and I reaped nothing but boredom from the required repetitive utilization of basic tactics. Also, it wasn't long before I discovered "shoot-from-the-bottom" shooters that have so much more to offer. Demon Attack is much more dynamic and colorful and features a wider variety of aliens to blast, and most of its creatures are tougher to annihilate and far less predictable than the average antennae-topped Space Invaders punk. Action-packed Spider Fighter gives players something to look forward to in that it grants them super-fast gunfire once they make sufficient progress, while SI changes things up merely by allowing its aliens offsides starts in later rounds. Even the not-exactly-thrilling-itself Centipede comes off as veritably manic in style when compared with SI thanks to its more-crowded playfield.

The bottom line is that Space Invaders bored me. I would lose patience with it so early during any given session that I'd often go right ahead and blast up my own damn defense barriers so I could get at the dopey aliens that much more quickly.

Needless to say, I really didn't ponder the possibilities of what HuCard Space Invaders would have in store for me. Hell, sitting through just a few seconds of this horrid antiquity...

...made me want to ditch the chip entirely. But I decided to stick with it for a bit and started firing away (at my own shields, of course). After a couple of rounds, I'd had enough.

I couldn't wash my hands of the whole abysmal affair yet, though, as there was still the special "Plus" mode to experience. So with the goal in mind of getting the obligatory give-it-a-try session out of the way as quickly as possible, I started up a game of Plus and watched a pointless "polygonal" spacecraft-tossing exhibition.

I just wanted the game to stop embarrassing itself at that point. It was one of those "You're not cool, so stop acting like you are" moments. But Plus ran through its "3D" shenanigans quickly enough, and once I began playing the game proper, I discovered that it actually is kinda cool in some ways.

First things first: it's fast. Everything happens so much more quickly here than in the terribly methodical original. There are many more alien types to deal with, and the creatures here have three-way shots at their disposal in addition to the usual straight-line bomb attacks. They occasionally align themselves in formations more complex than the facile rectangle-of-rows that their ancestors assembled in. You're provided with numerous neat auxiliary items with which you can fend off your wily new adversaries. Decent-looking backdrops spell the old black nothings that classic battles played out atop. And accompanying the upgraded action is actual music (as opposed to the "tense" lines of blops that had previously passed for a "score").

SI Plus is an enormous improvement over the original Space Invaders, though it isn't quite the renaissance success story that Galaga '90 is; its gameplay just isn't at a high-enough level. It's too random for you to ever get in a zone with it like you can with '90, as luck comes into play a little too often: sometimes, you just have to hope that you're granted a useful secondary weapon or that the aliens don't unleash an untimely spread attack. And ultimately, the action is still monotonous. Nonetheless, even an old SI belittler like me can appreciate the fast-paced play of Plus, and those who actually adore the "classic" will likely consider this modernized take a must-own.

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