Space Invaders Forever (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 04.01.2021 1

Review for Space Invaders Forever on Nintendo Switch

Many an old video game player, probably even including your mom and dad, have played Space Invaders at some point in their life, be it as one of its many arcade incarnations found in a pub they went to, or likely as the killer app of Atari 2600. The thrilling sensation provided by wiping out descending moving targets as their speed increases is something few games could match back in the day. However, these days, outside of arcade goers, most younger people are less likely to have ever played Space Invaders, or could even understand its appeal. The original's base formula hasn't aged the best, indeed, but the series has seen many lesser known updates in its 42 years of existence. Released at the end of last year on Nintendo Switch, Space Invaders Forever includes three such updates, in the form of Space Invaders Extreme, Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE, and Arkanoid vs Space Invaders. It is time to see how much appeal this updated old formula can still have in 2021.

Space Invaders Extreme is the star of the package. This 2008 title originally released to celebrate the franchise's 30th anniversary is really a Space Invaders game on steroids. As arcade-styled score chasers go, this is one of the finest out there. Players move their cannon at the bottom of the screen from left to right, in the usual Space Invaders fashion, shooting down waves of… well, invaders coming down from the top of the screen. This has not changed, but it is now possible to build up combo multipliers and score bonuses by chaining kills of invaders in the same row, column, or of the same colour. Furthermore, doing so can sometimes drop a bonus power, like a huge laser, or bombs that can blast multiple targets at the same time.

This is composed of a succession of stages. Each one has a fixed number of "waves" of invaders, with a boss fight at the end. Additionally, the UFO that sometimes travels across the top of the screen can be shot down to enter some bonus stages which, if successful, trigger a fever mode where each UFO destroyed grants a jackpot of points. Furthermore, in fever mode, invaders themselves drop bonus weapons with each kill. Invaders may also come in different sizes, may require multiple hits, or be equipped with shields that repel lasers but not bullets. Fighting invaders in this 2008 version is not as straightforward as the Space Invaders name would suggest. A boss fight later on even requires lasers to be deflected off the shields carried by smaller invaders to hit the big boss from the flanks, where it is vulnerable. A clever use of the classic mechanics indeed.

Screenshot for Space Invaders Forever on Nintendo Switch

This is all presented in a trippy fashion, with backgrounds and music reminiscent of Rez. Depending on how well the player is doing, he or she will be steered towards more or less difficult subsequent stages, thereby adjusting the difficulty to the player's level of skill. This reminds a bit of another Taito franchise actually, Darius, with multiple possible final levels to finish with. Space Invaders Extreme is a strictly single player affair that entices the player to aim for the top of the online leaderboards. It is truly addictive, especially so for fans of arcade score chasers, and it is a real shame that the existing 2009 sequel was not included here, as it remains exclusive to the Nintendo DS to this day.

Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE is the second instalment included, and is a much simpler and less exciting experience by comparison. This is like a giant version of classic Space Invaders, with no extra flair, playable by up to four players. A solo player could play it, but the mission is practically impossible because the amount of invaders on screen really dictates that it has to be played in co-op by multiple people. It's easy to imagine this being played by those nostalgic for the original experience, who also want to play it together with friends, and tackle the extra challenge - and they could have fun with it, but this could have easily been replaced by any other classic rendition that included a multiplayer mode, and was more fun in single player, and it would have been a better inclusion than this one. Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE is the most disappointing of the three.

Screenshot for Space Invaders Forever on Nintendo Switch

Arkanoid vs Space Invaders rounds up the package, and this one is quite peculiar. For one, it is unplayble in docked mode, which makes it part of a very small selection of games on Switch that are not. It will display on the TV, in TATE orientation, but no controllers work with it. Instead, the only input method supported is the touch screen of the system. To the uninitiated this would come across as weird, but the explanation is simple: this is a straight port of a game available for Android and iOS phones and tablets, with no visible updates of any kind, not even in the controls department. Arkanoid vs Space Invaders is therefore best played with the Switch unit stripped of its controllers and held sideways, like a tablet in portrait orientation. As the title suggests, this brings together the gameplay of Arkanoid, the formula of which is also known to boomers such as this reviewer as "brick breaker," with the shoot 'em up action of Space Invaders.

This time, the Arkanoid ship or Pong-like "paddle" can be moved up and down, in addition to left and right, within a limited area at the bottom of the screen. This is done by touching the ship and sliding it around, which gives a nice degree of control of the action as it is therefore easy to move rapidly around, and stop moving immediately if need be. Short of having a proper "paddle controller," this is the next best thing and while it is unfortunate that it can't be played on a TV, analogue-stick or D-Pad controls just wouldn't offer the same degree of control. The Switch is not a phone or tablet, though - it is thicker, and is not quite as comfortable to hold "like a tablet", which makes this port tougher to recommend here. As far as gameplay goes, the ship will repel the shots from the invaders, either straight up, or at an angle if a movement is applied to the projectile as it hits the paddle, just like with the ball in Arkanoid. Levels may contain the traditional bricks, invaders, or mixtures of both.

Screenshot for Space Invaders Forever on Nintendo Switch

Death does not come here from taking a shot, since the ship repels them, and it does not happen from enemy shots hitting the ground either. Instead, each level has a time limit. There is also some semblance of a plot driving the player forward, and offering some tutorial-like advice along the way, which is pretty forgettable, but also a welcome addition for people who want to learn all the ins and outs to score big. A good part of scoring big is naturally to score big combos, and as a part of the plot, the player will free allies imprisoned by the invaders as he or she progresses; allies who lend their powers to destroy enemies in a more devastating way. Unlike Space Invaders Extreme, however, this one has no online leaderboards encouraging players to chase after huge scores, which is a bit of a shame. The strictly single player campaign is fun to play through, though. Arkanoid vs Space Invaders is weirdly not included in the same app as the other two games sold in Space Invaders Forever.

There could be a number of reasons for this, such as the game not being playable in docked mode anyway. However this has caused some issues at launch, where people who purchased Space Invaders Forever from the eShop could only download the app named like it, but Arkanoid vs Space Invaders would not download at all. Upon running into this exact issue when reviewing this, the provider of the game told Cubed3 that this eShop issue has since been resolved, but some users are still complaining at time of writing that they still haven't received the third game, weeks after their purchase. Bear in mind that the fault could lie with Nintendo on this, naturally, but would certainly not have happened if all three games had been made part of the same app from the start. It is also a shame that with the plethora of different wacky versions of Space Invaders out there, this package does not include more.

Screenshot for Space Invaders Forever on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Space Invaders Forever is a three-game package, where one of them is downright excellent, one of them is an interesting and fun concept, but isn't the most comfortable to play with on Switch, and the last one is only a bit of fun in multiplayer. The first of the bunch itself could justify the purchase if the package was priced a bit more sensibly, but this should really have included more of the excellent updates to the Space Invaders formula that have been released over the years. Furthermore, people who have purchased the digital package at launch on the eShop had issues getting Arkanoid vs Space Invaders to install on their system. We're told this is not a problem anymore though.

Review copy provided by ININ Games

Developer

Taito

Publisher

ININ Games

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

I'm addicted to Space Invaders Extreme all over again! Smilie

Oh, wait a minute - this isn't the same as the Japanese "Invincible Collection" that has 10 games included?! Smilie

( Edited 19.01.2021 13:00 by jesusraz )

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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