Space Invaders Extreme 2
The phrase 'Space Invaders' means many things to different people. It's a five hundred million dollar cash cow for Taito, it is a holy legend for old-school gamers, and it's a stellar choice for any adult film producer looking for a punalicious movie title. Possibly moreso if they do what Taito has done and slap 'Extreme' on the end of it.
When Taito released the original Space Invaders Extreme, people lapped it up for the psychedelic bowl of sugar that it was. In my humble opinion it managed to successfully enhance the existing experience without destroying the memory of what it was. Essentially, the formula is pretty much the same here: you control a 'laser base' at the bottom of the screen which shoots enemies that are seeking to invade your space. Interestingly, while these alien interlopers have mastered interstellar travel, they lack the basic motor-skills required to fly directly at their at their targets, y'know, forward.
Pretty extreme backgrounds, too.
Anyway, in the original Extreme, the formation of the aliens varied greatly from level to level. Sometimes there are only a handful of the buggers in a tight formation, sometimes guerilla invaders advance rapidly down the screen separately from the pack, and sometimes you'd have to contend with a ginormous boss invader with smaller 'guard aliens'. This time 'round, the xenomorphs have learned a lot from their previous invasion. They incorporate several new tactics, formations, and even a fleet of faster, stronger ships.
That's right, folks. Rather than just line-dancing at you, the invaders now use cunningly designed waves of uniquely designed attack crafts that cover each others' weaknesses. Now you'll have to contend with shielded cruisers, rotary turrets, reflectively shielded scouts, invisible stalker ships, teleporting bastards, and my personal non-favourite, the kamikaze drones.
The bonus structure is quite similar to the last title; to aid you in your E.T. genocide, you can shoot a certain number of enemies of the same colour to score a power-up tied to that colour. These include incendiary missiles, multi-shot bullets, streaming laser bursts, or an energy shield. All this weaponry definitely comes in handy in Extreme 2, because this sequel is quite happy throw twice as many enemies at you.
Taste the blue pain, aliens!
Like the original, you may trigger bonus missions mid-level. Unlike the original, though, this game doesn't whisk you away to the stage to engage them, it just dumps the extra baddies at the top of the screen. It is, for ant of a better term, 'double space invasion', and it is utter chaos. Trust me, this game can shift from 'quaint, old-school reminiscing' to 'frenetic fight for survival' very swiftly.
In keeping with the 'extreme' facelift of this franchise, Space Invaders Extreme 2 still features the cool techno soundtrack with instruments keyed into the onscreen action (if you haven't experienced it yet, it is similar to that of Rez or Lumines). You can happily blast away and make beautiful music with the aliens - almost like that scene in Close Counters, except you're communicating via death rays. Personally, I prefer the soundtrack to the prior game rather than this new one. Extreme 2 seems to concern itself more with those retro bleeps, bloops and zap sound effects that, while a bit nostalgic, become irritating.
Gambling and aliens. Best combo ever?
For those among you looking for more, you can sink some time into the Versus and Time Attack modes, and (best of all) if you've got Wi-Fi around, you can strut your stuff online and challenge other gamers, either through random match-ups or friend-code exchanges.
As it stands, Space Invaders Extreme 2 is a well-priced, solid game that usurps the original Extreme in almost every way. Beam up a copy.