Space Invaders Extreme 2 Review for Nintendo DS

Space Invaders Extreme 2 Review for Nintendo DS

Aliens Attack

From a modern gamer’s perspective, almost nothing is as boring as the original Space Invaders. Some alien blobs inch back and forth, dropping tiny blobs capable of destroying the blob you control. Yawn.

Space Invaders Extreme 2 screenshot

Fortunately, the new DS cart Space Invaders Extreme 2 is Space Invaders in little more than name. This is an arcade shooter for the ADHD generation. Between the hyper music, the crazy backgrounds, the multicolored enemies, the boss battles, and the surprisingly deep mini-games, you’ll hardly realize how simple and repetitive the core gameplay is. Despite a few small flaws, this is a great choice for players of all ages and skill levels.

At first, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to it. The D-pad moves your ship left and right, and some buttons fire, just like they did in 1978. Everything moves faster than it used to, from the music to the relentless waves of enemies, but you can work through it by shooting constantly and avoiding enemy gunfire. Power-ups, including laser and bomb attachments, drop when you kill four like-colored enemies in a row, and by holding the L or R button you can save your current power-up for later use. Each boss battle has its own nuances (some foes shield themselves at various points in their patterns, or even reflect your own shots back at you, forcing you to shoot strategically), but there’s nothing too hard to grasp.

The game features a branching selection of stages. You can play the easiest ones in Beginner mode with infinite lives, or you can switch to Normal difficulty, in which you have infinite continues but have to start your current stage (or boss fight) over when you run out of lives. When you complete some of the stages in Normal, you’ll be asked to choose between levels of varying difficulty (after level 2 you can go to 3-A or 3-B, etc.), and once you’ve cleared a stage you can skip directly to it whenever you’d like.

Space Invaders Extreme 2 screenshot

You can play through the levels in a variety of modes, but none of the modes are out of the ordinary: there’s Time Attack (clear the stages quickly), Score Attack (get as many points as possible), and Ranking (no continues). When you clear all the stages at Normal difficulty, Extreme unlocks, with unrelentingly tough configurations and new enemies.

All of this makes for a decent game with nonstop action. The stages, especially the harder ones, provide a nice challenge, but there’s relatively little of the ridiculous “bullet hell” some games throw at players. The level select and infinite continues make it so you never have to play the early levels over and over again just to get to the later ones. The graphics are great for the DS, with dazzling, colorful images dancing across the screen almost constantly. While the electronica/dance music can grate after a while, the effects work well and actually become part of the soundtrack.

Space Invaders Extreme 2 screenshot

What puts Space Invaders Extreme 2 over the top, however, are the mini-games. Once you learn the ropes, at any given moment, you’re not just trying to destroy the enemies on the bottom screen. Rather, you’re using those monsters to solve various puzzles on the top screen. For example, sometimes you can complete a Bingo card by killing enemies in the right pattern (for example, if a square is made up of blue and yellow, you have to kill four blue monsters in a row followed by four yellow monsters).

Other times, you face a special round of enemies on the top screen (shooting around the enemies on the bottom screen accurately without getting killed is an art form). Successfully completing these challenges earns you “Fever Time” and “Super Fever Time,” in which you get to use a power-up for an extended period of time. This is a great way to rack up some serious points. Thanks to all these bells and whistles, Space Invaders Extreme 2 is not just a twitchy shooter, but rather a cerebral exercise that demands thought and planning in addition to fast reflexes.

Space Invaders Extreme 2 screenshot

The game doesn’t even stop at one of the best single-player experiences in recent memory. You can play against a friend with one or two cartridges, or online, and you can play against computer opponents. The multiplayer game isn’t nearly as vast as the one-player experience; you just fend off waves of enemies as quickly as possible. When you do well, your opponent gets more enemies or even a mini-boss. Still, it’s reasonably fun and a nice change.

We have only a few small complaints about the game as a whole. There’s no turbo-fire button, so you have to keep hammering the fire buttons over and over again. Also, some of the stages and boss fights in the Normal difficulty are a little harder and cheaper than we’d have liked, though casual gamers can always stick to the “A” stages or even the Beginner difficulty.

Still, any game that can be enjoyed on so many levels is a real treasure. Space Invaders Extreme 2 is perfect for kids who like shooting things, adults looking to blow off steam in short bursts, and serious gamers who want to learn a complicated scoring system and test the limits of their abilities. Somehow, the developers wrung all this out of a simplistic 30-year-old game that hasn’t stood the test of time. That is a true accomplishment, and at $20 purchasing this title is a no-brainer.

This is a 2-D game, but a lot of attention was paid to the backgrounds, so it’s colorful and very attractive. 2.8 Control
The lack of a turbo-fire button is obnoxious, but otherwise it’s fine. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The effects become part of the soundtrack, which is interesting, but the techno/dance music starts to grate after a while. 4.4

Play Value
Some of the levels on Normal difficulty are harder than we’d have liked, but that aside, this provides a great experience for gamers of all ages and skill levels.

4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Exciting new head-to-head battle modes.
  • Challenging new time attack mode.
  • Go beyond Fever Time to Super Fever Time.
  • Dynamic background movies and interactive sound.
  • Wireless gameplay and a worldwide score leaderboard.

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