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A celebratory update to the coin-op classic arrives on Sony's handheld, but with added psychedelia...
- Classic pure gameplay.
- New features enhance thirty year old title.
- Perfect for quick gaming sessions.
- No online multiplayer.
- No Game Share.
- Another version of the game everyone has played.
There's little doubt that alongside Pac Man and Pong, Space Invaders is one of the original classic computer games, the sort of game that parents would have played in their long forgotten youths. If you're up to making them feel even older, try telling them that Space Invaders Extreme's is to mark the game's 30th Anniversary; that should add to the number of grey hairs and bald spots around the country.
So, three decades after it arrived in arcades around the globe, what's so 'extreme' about Space Invaders Extreme?
As anybody would expect, the basic premise remains in place; Extreme isn't some kind of reboot of the franchise. Rather, it's been subtly updated with new features that makes Space Invaders take a leaf from its descendents like Geometry Wars and Super Stardust HD. Gone are the black backgrounds or simple static lunar images of the past; for Space Invaders Extreme, an altogether more psychedelic wave of colours cover the PSP's wide screen.
The gameplay is also enhanced, incorporating new facets like temporary bonus weapons and integrating bonus rounds into the action according to whether players shoot down enemies in different patterns or the multi-colour UFOs that dash across the screen. Some bonuses, such as the Roulette round, rewards gamers with extras like an extra life, a power up, or nothing at all (if they're unlucky). Others set objectives like killing a certain number of invaders or UFOs within a sometimes punishing time limit, made all the more challenging by punishing failure with even tougher time demands. Chains of kills are now recorded for instance, pushing players lightly into the sort of rapid shooter usually seen by Bizarre Creations' output. Short-lived Fever rounds also reward gamers that manage to complete the bonus rounds, multiplying scores by ten and the frenzy factor of the gameplay even more.
The main Arcade mode splits after the first couple of levels, giving players the chance to decide whether to play stages with increased (or decreased) levels of difficulty. This branching breakdown to the 'campaign' also allows players to save their progress, essential for when the number of lives drops to zero. Despite these additions, the purity of the original 1978 game remains thoroughly intact, proving that there are some retro titles worthy of their 'classic' status without being viewed by some heavily rose-tined glasses. It's not epic, but it's not supposed to be; what Space Invaders Extreme successfully offers gamers is the chance for quick and instant bursts of gameplay.
Multiplayer is an added feature in Space Invaders Extreme, with two-player gameplay for people lucky enough to find someone else with a copy of the game. Unlike what is an increasing trend however, Extreme doesn't feature Game Share or Wi-Fi Infrastructure options, vastly limiting the chances of finding a human opponent to compete against. It's a shame really, since the lack of a more expansive multiplayer set up would undoubtedly make Extreme a must have title for PSP enthusiasts. It's still worth picking up though, thanks to its very pure playable gameplay that hasn't aged over time.