The first memory I have of an arcade game was this one tabletop arcade box that allowed two players to play Space Invaders from opposite sides of the table. It had colored glass over the screen that would change the colors of the aliens as they came closer to the cannon. The cabinet had a joystick to move the cannon left or right and a button to fire. The little alien invaders became instantly recognizable. Even the Jaws-like music during the invasion became an instant classic. Since then several ports and clones have come about, but none were able to capture the same magic until Space Invaders Extreme came out on the PSP and DS. The surprising hit has now garnered a sequel with Space Invaders Extreme 2.
The objective of Space Invaders Extreme 2 is similar to the original game where the main objective is to clear the screen of the aliens. However, the invaders have colors. If you shoot down four invaders of the same color, a power up falls toward the cannon area. If you catch it with the cannon you are usually given some extra firepower, depending on the color of four invaders. Shooting four blue invaders gives you a laser, four red invaders give a bomb shot, a broad shot is awarded with four green invaders in a row, and a shield is given after shooting four black invaders in a row.
The colors are kept track of in the feature panel above the invaders. When the feature panel consists of two sets of four boxes, your objective is to get two sets of four colors. The second set can be a different color than the first set. If you hit a different color, the feature panel is reset to the very beginning. When the feature panel is completely filled, a UFO comes out behind it. By hitting the UFO you go to a bonus round. The bottom screen invaders turn yellow, the top screen contains UFOs, and your cannon gets upgraded with an offensive power up.
At first, it is easy to get the panel boxes filled because the invaders are grouped in the same color scheme. Later on it becomes more difficult because the invaders with the same color are arranged differently. Sometimes the invaders with the same color are arranged in a straight line. Some invaders change color, making it even more difficult to hit four invaders of the same color in a row. It also helps each level to feel new instead being the same thing over and over.
While you want to get the feature panel filled to get the UFO to show up, you want to have some strategy as to which color invaders you target to fill in the feature panel. If you get a set of black followed by a set of green, a roulette feature comes up where you shoot at an invader to get some kind of bonus. A set of black invaders followed by a set of red ones transforms all invaders to UFOs. A set of blacks and then a set of blue invaders freeze all invaders so you have easy targets for a short period of time. While these don’t change the fundamental gameplay, it is a nice addition and can make hitting black invaders more important.
A bingo game is also included in the top screen that uses the feature panel. It’s a three by three area with each box having two colors inside. If you get a line vertically, horizontally, or diagonally another bonus round is triggered. If you successfully complete that bonus round all of the invaders are worth a large number of points. It can be tricky to try to pay attention to the bingo card, but it can be advantageous to complete it.
The sound has a heavy techno beat. However, it matches the action surprisingly well. The trippy backgrounds help set the mood as well. If you have the DS Rumble Pack that came with certain games like Metroid Prime Pinball, then the Rumble Pack will actually pulse with the music. It does take a while to get used to it, and at first I found it more annoying since it is constantly pulsing. It is nice to see this extra feature included in Space Invaders Extreme 2.
Space Invaders Extreme 2 comes with two different modes. Score Attack has you trying to get the highest score, while Time Attack has you trying to get through five stages as quickly as you can. Score Attack features two modes. In the Beginner mode you have infinite lives and no branching stages. In the Normal mode you have a branching system similar to the old arcade game OutRun. The goal is to complete five stages successfully. There is also a Ranking system for both modes where you can’t retry stages or continue playing after you lose. This mode has the ability to see how your score compares to other people’s scores that they have uploaded online.
There is a multiplayer component and it is more than having one person play while the other person watches like the old arcade game. In the multiplayer both players have a stage of invaders. As you shoot invaders and complete power ups, invaders are added to a spare stock area. When you shoot down a UFO, those invaders are sent from your stock to the opponent’s screen. The first player to run out of cannons loses. You can play through wireless play, DS download play, and through the Nintendo Wi-Fi network.