22/03/2015

Space Invaders

If the sole defender of Earth was to be me, say goodbye to the planet...





Oh look, it's another classic that I couldn't tell you where I first encountered it and in what format. Left, right, shoot, it's Space Invaders, what more needs to be said? Lots of bad guys up top, not a lot of Earth down below, can you survive the looming hordes of aliens hell bent on invading?


Fun Times


There's nothing to Space Invaders, really, unless you want to invest the time into the tactics of sharpshooting and survival. You move your little turret shaped thing in and out of cover, firing back at the army marching down on you from the dark skies above.

Do you use the cover available to you to prolong your life, or do you shoot through it from your own side to open up some more channels of fire to keep the invaders at bay? Do you try and set yourself up for a well placed shot on the red mothership for more points, or do you fire with no purpose, hoping for a bit of luck to take over from what you lack in strategy? 

Both options are available to you in order to reach those high scores, but be warned...



Frustrations


... because you're not as good at Space Invaders as you think you are.

I saw this a lot, this red GAME OVER message. Was I rusty? Was I taking too many risks? Was I just not in the zone yet? Probably all of the above.

When you hop into a classic like this, you assume - especially if you've played it before - that you can slip right back into the frame of mind you were in when you last played it very well; when you were getting those high scores and making progress, when you were saving the Earth...

Not today. I didn't save the Earth. I failed it. I let you all down. Sorry about that.

Was Space Invaders as pick-up-and-play as Breakout, for example? I would have said it was. They need different approaches in order to succeed, but they're still from that time where games were easy to play and difficult to master. I thought I'd have more success from the start, but turns out I didn't.


Fond Memories


But who needs success, really? Games are about fun. High scores are all well and good, and if you have fun achieving a new score then good for you, but for me, a game will hold my attention for as long as I find it fun to play.

Space Invaders can have its ups and downs - you'll have your moments of stupidity and you'll have your successes when all seems lost - but you'll keep coming back for me because you remember it so well.


Final Word


Games are starting to get more and more detailed, even at this early stage. We've gone from a bat and a ball in Pong to early rocket physics in Combat to full on war in Space Invaders.

Well not quite, but we're getting there. Each stand out title is bringing something to the gaming landscape, trying to improve upon its successors, who themselves were sturdy platforms that can be used to reach new heights.

Today we're chained to the surface of Earth, tomorrow...?



Fun Facts


For the first four years of its release in arcades, Space Invaders would bring in an average of $600m per year.

Space Invaders, developed by Taito, first released in 1978.
Version played: Arcade, 1978, via emulation.