Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Space Invaders Extreme 2


Like it's retro-remastered counterpart Pac-Man: Championship Edition, Space Invaders Extreme was one of the most critically acclaimed games that Taito/Namco had released in years (so much so that it got a PSP conversion and a 360 port). Of course with their new found success, Taito did what they do best: sequelize it! Despite the rather bizzare decision to make a sequel to a game that didn't really need a sequel (People could play it for years perfecting their technique as with Pac-Man), the results couldn't have turned out any better than they did.

When you have a gameplay engine as finely crafted as Space Invaders, it's wise not to change much. SIE2 keeps the minimalistic control scheme of pressing a button to shoot and the D-pad to move but what it does change is some of the original games more superfluous features, for the better. One of the ways the original Extreme changed the Space Invaders formula was by introducing the Fever Time system.

As explained in my review of Extreme 1, when four invaders of the same colour are destroyed you are whisked away into an arena which gives you a task to complete in a finite period of time, with success rewarding you in Fever Time which gives you a directional laser and point bonuses for each Invader you kill. The top screen for Extreme 2 shows player stats but also the games most creative new addition: the bingo board.

The game takes notes on which colour of enemies you killed to get to the challenge and records it. If you succeed in the challenge then one of the squares lights up on the board. If you get three in a row then you enter Fever Time, where the multi-directional laser has been replaced with a gigantic pink laser and so many point bonuses fall down from the sky it's this games version of euphoria (and they now come in pink!). Each line formed causes a different event to trigger (getting the left hand side filled in is a different event to filling the middle line in).

This change may seem superfluous, but it also does the impossible and expands on the original games greatest strength: Flow. In the original game these challenges took you out of the game for the event. In this game the events are placed in the top screen while your main game continues. Through what may seem like a small change, Space Invaders Extreme 2 becomes even more extreme than its predecessor, always making sure that something is going on and that you always have to be able to react to any given situation.

To conclude, everything that was great about the first game is still here: the nice visual design, the amazing appropriate techno music (In Space Invaders of all things!), amazing boss battles that really push the game mechanics to their limits and so on but it is presented in such a dynamic way that it plays like a completely different game. On the other hand, the constant screen switching of the events are probably the reason this game never got a port while its prequel did. Either way, Extreme 2 remains one of the best titles in an already impressive DS back catalog and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Find Space Invaders Extreme 2 on ebay | Amazon

Released: 2009-10-20
Publisher: Taito
Developer: Project Just


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