Originally released back in 1978 Space Invaders was one of the first hit video games. The basic premise of the game was players would control a laser cannon that they would use to try and shoot down all of the alien ships before they reached the bottom of the screen. As I was born a little after the heyday of the arcade era of video games, I never had the connection to the classic arcade games like some other people. Space Invaders is a fun game that still holds up, but I wouldn’t consider it one of my favorite games. The game has a lot of fans though which has lead to a number of spinoff games over the years. Today I am looking Space Invaders Forever which is a PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch collection of three games from the series past. While I am not the biggest fan of the franchise, I do enjoy checking out these modern twists on classic arcade games. Space Invaders Forever is an interesting collection of three games from the franchise’s past that succeed at creating an interesting modern twist on the classic formula.
As Space Invaders Forever is a collection of three games from the past, I think the best way of approaching this review is taking a look at each of the three included games separately.
Space Invaders Extreme
The first game included in Space Invaders Forever is Space Invaders Extreme. This game was originally released in 2008 on the 30th anniversary of Space Invaders. The version included in Forever is the improved version of the game released in 2018. Space Invaders Extreme is basically a modern interpretation of the original game. Like the original game you are in control of a laser cannon which you will use to attack the alien ships that are attacking Earth. Where this version of the game differs from the original is that it adds a few modern twists to the formula. The game utilizes the same enemy types, but they move in different patterns and come in different combinations. The game also features various combos that you can unlock in order to receive weapon upgrades that allow you to deal more damage. Space Invaders Extreme is broken up into a number of levels with each ending in a different boss battle.
Space Invaders Extreme is basically what you would expect from someone trying to modernize the original game. The basic gameplay is exactly the same. The developers basically utilized new techniques and better technology in order to tweak the original game. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a huge fan of the original game, but I honestly thought Space Invaders Extreme improved upon it. I think the game’s greatest strength is that it does a good job keeping up the pace. This starts with the game’s soundtrack which works well with the gameplay where it almost feels like you are playing a rhythm game (you aren’t actually). Each level consists of quite a few mini stages which you can complete pretty quickly. This allows the game to keep throwing enemies at you which makes the levels pass really quickly. The game’s speed really makes it stand out against the original game.
In many ways Space Invaders Extreme still maintains its arcade roots. Basically each time you play the main mode you will move through a set of levels trying to set a high score for your run. Each of these runs are pretty short though. There are more difficult versions of each level, but you can play through all of the levels pretty quickly. Therefore most of your time in the game will come from trying to beat your previous high scores. If you like chasing high scores you likely will get quite a bit of time out of Space Invaders Extreme. If you don’t really care about high scores though, you will likely play through most of the content pretty quickly.
Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE
Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE’s main twist on the formula is that it is the first game in the franchise to implement cooperative mechanics. One to four players will play together in order to defeat all of the enemy ships. Each player controls their own cannon. The screen has been expanded in order to compensate so players have to defeat considerably more aliens in each wave. When two or more players place their cannons next to one another and fire at the same time, they will shoot a more powerful projectile which will deal more damage. The game features a number of stages which includes some boss battles where you have to defeat the boss before you run out of time.
In many ways Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE is pretty much what you would expect from a cooperative Space Invaders game. The gameplay is closer to the original game, but it does incorporate some of the modern elements of Space Invaders Extreme including the boss battles and unique enemy movement patterns. I personally thought the Space Invaders Extreme gameplay was a little more exciting due to the faster pace. I still enjoyed Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE though. I really liked the idea of adding a cooperative element to the game as I honestly don’t know why a game didn’t utilize it earlier. It makes perfect sense to make this type of game cooperative. In order to succeed in the game you need to work well together. Even the best Space Invaders players are unlikely to be able to deal with all of the enemies by themselves in time. Players need to work well together in order to cover the entire screen without letting an enemy reach the bottom.
I had quite a bit of fun with this mode. The main problem that I had with it is that it just isn’t particularly long. Unless you can unlock more stages based on how well you do, you could pretty easily beat all of the stages within around 15 minutes. This mode seems to only have around 10 stages which includes three boss fights. If you don’t mind using continues to just beat all of the stages, you should be able to finish this game in around 15 minutes. If you want to beat the mode without having to use continues it could take quite a bit more time as we had to use a couple continues in order to beat it. We are far from experts at Space Invaders though. Otherwise as the game is an arcade game, most of the gameplay will come from trying to improve your final score. This shouldn’t bother arcade game fans, but if you are looking for a lot of different content you may be a little disappointed.
Arkanoid vs Space Invaders
The final game included in Space Invaders Forever is Arkanoid vs Space Invaders. Of the three games this is the one that differs the most from the original game. This game is a port of a 2016 smartphone app. Arkanoid was an arcade game released eight years after Space Invaders. The basic premise of the game was to use a paddle to bounce a ball to break the bricks on the screen. Arkanoid vs Space Invaders combines this gameplay with the enemies from Space Invaders. Instead of trying to avoid their projectiles, you try to bounce them back in order to destroy the aliens. The goal of each level is to destroy all of the enemies before you run out of time.
At first glance the premise behind Arkanoid vs Space Invaders doesn’t make sense. The two original arcade games had very little in common as the gameplay for both games are quite different. Really the only similarities between the two games were that they were both arcade games made by the same developers. Despite the combination not making much sense at first, in action it works a lot better than I was expecting. In fact I would say that this game is the one that I most enjoyed in Space Invaders Forever.
Of the two games I would say it is favors Arkanoid considerably. The main gameplay is exactly the same as the original Arkanoid. Arkanoid vs Space Invaders takes two main elements from Space Invaders. First some of the enemies move which makes them somewhat harder to hit as you need to time and aim your shots. The bigger change is that instead of trying to keep the ball from hitting the bottom of the screen, you instead mostly just try to hit every projectile that is shot at you. You aren’t punished for any shot that you miss, but you need to reflect as many shots as you can in order to improve the odds that you hit everything before you run out of time.
As this game was originally a mobile game it does utilize touchscreens instead of the analog sticks. I will say that this takes a little time to get used to mostly because few PlayStation 4 games actually utilize the touch screen. After you get used to it though, the controls work pretty well. The reason that this game works so well is that the gameplay is quite satisfying. There is just something satisfying about quickly moving your ship around trying to reflect as many projectiles as possible. The game itself utilizes a really fast pace which is not that surprising due to the game’s smartphone origins. For most levels you are given around 30 seconds in order to get rid of all of the enemies. Thus the game relies on a lot of quick little levels which keeps up the pace. I have always enjoyed this genre of block breaking arcade games, and Arkanoid vs Space Invaders does a good job replicating the original while adding in some interesting new twists to the formula.
Space Invaders Forever is basically what you would expect from a Space Invaders game. The game consists of three different games released for the franchise over the years which try to modernize the formula in different ways. First is Space Invaders Extreme which basically takes the original game and adds in some modern twists. This game takes what is enjoyable about the original game and improves upon it by speeding up the gameplay. Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE takes the original gameplay and makes it cooperative. The Space Invaders formula works surprisingly well as a cooperative game even if it is on the short side. The most interesting game in the collection is Arkanoid vs Space Invaders which combines the two games mentioned in the title. I would say that it relies more on Arkanoid than Space Invaders, but this was also the game that I enjoyed the most. These two games might be totally different, and yet they work surprisingly well together. This is a really fun brick breaking game that fans of the genre should really enjoy.
My recommendation for the game is actually quite simple. Do you like Space Invaders? If your answer is no, I don’t see anything in the game that is likely to change your mind. Fans of the arcade game that think these twists on the formula sound interesting though should really enjoy Space invaders Forever and should consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank ININ Games and Taito for the review copy of Space Invaders Forever used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.