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Let's face it. There's not a snowballs chance that Space Invaders for the PlayStation could duplicate the success achieved by the game in the arcades 1978 and on the Atari 2600 in 1980. After all, the coin-op version caused such a cultural revolution in Japan that there was a severe shortage of 100 yen coins for several months during the game's peak popularity period. It was also the first Sci-Fi space shooter that was any kind of commercial success in arcades, and has been cloned like there's no tomorrow by other companies. On the home front, Space Invaders is generally credited -- and rightfully so -- as being the first "system seller" in the history of console video gaming (Asteroids came later on the 2600.)

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Ok, so SI won't set the world on fire the second time around, but that doesn't mean it can't compete favorably with current generation PlayStation titles, either. After all, previous revamps on the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 (Space Invaders Plus) and Sega Genesis (SI '91) were some of the better shooters available during their time. Semi-enhanced versions have also found their way to Gameboy, Super Nintendo, Game Gear, Atari 5200, Famicom and Sega Saturn (Japan). Clearly, Space Invaders is a game with tremendous legs. The PlayStation version is most dramatically enhanced version thus far and is proof that a simple game can more than hold its own by offering old school gameplay in today's market.

For those of you who have been unfortunate to have never tried Space Invaders or any of its iterations, the object of Space Invaders is to shoot down wave after wave of alien forces as they make their way down from the sky. The enemies methodically march down toward your planet. You die if they reach the ground or if you get shot. In this version, you'll have to contend with over 100 different levels, 13 alien ships and 10 bosses as you try and defend your world from invasion. Thankfully, you're armed with better weapons this time, among them being neutron blasts, swarm missiles and laser beams. Rapid fire, shields and other stuff are also at your disposal depending on the power-ups you acquire.

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The differences between the arcade classic and this one doesn't end there. You get a choice of joining forces with a friend and take on the aliens cooperatively. And this time, you have to defend all the planets in our solar system, not just Earth. Bosses appear after you clear each planet, and new enemies arrive at each new world as well. The aliens also behave differently than in the original. Some of them must be shot multiple times in order to eliminate them (a-la Phoenix or Demon Attack) while others shoot diagonally instead of merely straight down like in the original.

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While everything meshes together nicely, gameplay is far too easy. Novices and casual players might find it up their alley as far as difficulty goes, any veteran of classic games or shooter fanatics will blow past the game in no time. The main levels (the ones with the row of aliens marching down) seem more like a warm-up for the boss stages, which basically means that the developers have strayed from the original formula. With the wide array of power-ups and the ability to accumulate extra lives at a rapid pace, you'll hardly break a sweat. One never feels the sense of urgency, and each stage can be cleared far too quickly. If it's any consolation, those who finish the game get access to play the original Space Invaders.

Graphically, the game has been extensively enhanced, but that's not saying much given it's done on PlayStation. It's far behind the curve compared to cutting edge shooters of today, but Activision shouldn't be criticized for sticking as close as possible to the original. Although the look is certainly old school, the visuals don't hint at the game's origins -- it's quite an avant-garde look and feel that is pseudo-modern. Some will find the lack of the obligatory "classic feel" a turn-off, while others may find this a bold move to deviate in an area that needed to be redone from scratch.

Activision wisely stuck with the formula that made recent Space Invaders remakes enjoyable. They resisted the temptation of messing with the original gameplay by adding gimmicky features. Most of the additions are improvements and are appropriate for this type of game. If it's simple, enjoyable yet traditional gaming you're after, you can do much worse than Space Invaders for PlayStation.

Title Space Invaders
Publisher Activision
System Sony PlayStation
Graphics 5
Sound 6
Gameplay 6
Overall 6
Reviewer Keita Iida

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