4 games 1 cup continues with its sole WiiWare entry
It’s hard to believe that the xenophobic, shoot first ask questions never, grandfather of arcade games Space Invaders was released over thirty years ago. I’m sure many people reading this right now haven’t even existed for that long. Developer Taito, and their new publisher Square-Enix, have a reason to celebrate. Right now it’s the excellent update Space Invaders Extreme on DS and PSP that’s getting all of the love but don’t worry Wii owners. Taito has saved its fresh new gameplay ideas, as well as their new role-reversing story for their WiiWare game Space Invaders Get Even
According the opening cutscene, legends tell of a great battle between an invading alien horde and the heroic defenders of Earth thirty years ago. In the end, Earth was able to prevail thanks to a polygonal device known as the “core cannon”. But the victory was not without sacrifice. Sometimes Earth had to fire through their own shields in order to take down the invaders fast enough. Space Invaders Get Even does more to further the already gripping mythology of the series by having the invaders, well, get even. You control the mothership filled with pixilated minions/ammo and shoot your way across Earth in revenge. The presentation is refreshingly self-aware with radio banter between soldiers about “putting in more quarters” and the like. Before each boss fight, the core cannon (your little tank thing from the original game) will merge with the machine making it an actual threat. The menus are filled with plenty of retro graphics and sound effects that sneak their way into the main game too. As you progress you can also unlock retro skins for the mothership. Space Invaders Get Even definitely pays respects to its history.
But enough about old games, this is a new game and luckily it plays like one. Space Invaders may be in the title of both games but besides the ability to shoot things, Get Even is a very different beast than its predecessor. You control the mothership from a tilted top down viewpoint and fly it around the environment using the nunchuk. Your invader army surrounds you and with a press of the A button they will attack whatever area you point at with the Wii remote, provided you’re close enough to the sensor bar, an issue I sometimes had. Invaders can get killed however and in order to replenish them waggle is needed. Also, by pressing the Z trigger you can tuck them into the mothership, protecting them and increasing your mobility. Speed and mobility are important because there is no health bar in the game. When you get hit time is subtracted from the clock and when it reaches zero, game over. You’ll see that more and more often as you progress because the game gets noticeably more difficult in the later levels, especially in the boss fights. Blowing stuff up adds time to the clock though. There are many ways to blow stuff up since your invaders can take on different formations, creating different kinds of shots. This adds a satisfying level of strategy to the madness. As much as I tried, you can’t rely on one type of shot and expect to beat the game. You have to find which shot is appropriate for what situation. For example, the powerful bomb shot is good for targets too slow to get out of its way. The homing shot is good for when you want to attack an enemy but keep your distance and the drill shot is good for targeting a specific enemy, like a boss. You can quickly cycle between the shots with the trigger and the cursor reflects what shot you are currently using. Managing the shot type, invader supply, incoming fire and time limit all at the same time make for a fun, frantic but not mindless gameplay experience. There are a couple different mission types to test your skills like freeing fellow invaders or abducting cows but the gameplay also boils down too shoot and don’t get shot. But for a downloadable game like Get Even, that’s fun enough for what it lasts. It doesn’t need to change.
Get Even never changes any its core formula from beginning to end. It would have been nice to get different kinds of shots as the game progressed but no. Still, the game excels in other areas that keep it from becoming repetitive. First off, it’s a good looking WiiWare game. The 3D models, textures and lighting would have sufficed for at least a budget retail game. Some issues include unnatural straight lines where waves should be and explosions that look imposed onto objects rather than coming from within them. Even with that, Get Even stands alongside Square-Enix’s other WiiWare game Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King at the top of the WiiWare graphics totem. Environments and enemies are varied as well, ranging from rival motherships in volcanic fields to robotic dinosaurs in icy tundras. I recently bought a plasma TV for gaming and this game held it’s own.
There is one giant elephant in the room when discussing Space Invaders Get Even and it isn’t the online leaderboards. The game initially costs five dollars but you only get three levels. In order to get the full game like I did you need to buy the three additional level packs for five dollars each resulting in a twenty one mission and two hour game for twenty dollars. This, along with the DLC for Final Fantasy and even stuff like buying Vader in the 360 Soul Calibur 4, reflects Japan’s general ignorance on how online works. The initial game is little more than a demo. Personally, I had no problem with it since I have tons of disposable income but for poor folks like Assie, a great game suddenly rocketed out of their price range. It really should have been one game for 10 or maybe 15 dollars which World of Goo proved was a viable price point. The only reason they might have done this, besides greed, was space. The original download combined with the add-ons exceeds the 43 mb limit for WiiWare games so Nintendo and their lack of hard-drive are partly to blame as well. Where is that update they promised by the way? But back to the extortion, it seems like the Space Invaders have gone from stealing tokens to stealing Wii points. They really did get even after all.
Don’t let the previous paragraph fool you though. I really enjoyed Space Invaders Get Even but others might not be able to get over the price point as easy as I did. But if you can, or if you just pay five dollars for the first levels which are fun on their own, you’ll find unique arcade style shooter that’s also a faithful homage to the original arcade style shooter.