Review: Space Invaders Get Even (WiiWare)

Finally the roles are reversed and those fiendish Space Invaders can get their own back!

After the excellent Space Invaders Extreme, released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of original arcade game of Space Invaders in 1978, it seemed that Taito had finally brought the franchise back after a series of half hearted cash-ins and remakes over the years. To further complement the rejuvenated franchise, what could be better than releasing a WiiWare Space Invaders game where for the first time you get to play the bad guys?

The gameplay of Space Invaders Get Even is completely unlike any other entry in the series. You control a UFO with a swarm of invaders around it, and your job is basically to fly around cities, arms depots, oilfields and other places on Earth to blow stuff up. Of course the assailed Earthlings will do everything they can to stop you, because, as the game explains during an intro with a very cheesy voice-over, the invaders nearly wiped out Earth 30 years ago (which is amusingly also when the original Space Invaders was released). As such you’ll have to deal with literally everything they have - Helicopters, jets, tanks, turrets, anti-air vehicles, warships, towers which shoot giant lasers, and even giant bosses! Talk about the boot being on the other foot.

Thankfully your UFO is rather sturdy. It won’t be damaged directly; when you take a hit some of the invaders accompanying it will die, and you’ll lose some time (The UFO can only stay in the Earth’s atmosphere for a limited time, hence every level has a time limit).

Not to worry though, because both of these can be refilled - destroying buildings gives you 1 extra second per structure while vanquishing the army’s vehicles and constructions gets you a bit more (usually 5). Of course, no invaders can come to the Earth without abducting some cows and for every bovine captive you successfully acquire, you're awarded a whopping 15 seconds! Destroying stuff also gets you a lot of points, which is really the aim of the game. There are online leaderboards for every mission, so you can try to show off as much as possible.

The army is also holding some of your invaders' friends hostage, and you can liberate them and thereby replenish your invader stock (up to a maximum of 100). If you locate a conspicuous stone circle somewhere in a level (there’s usually only one) you can land in the middle and fill both your remaining time and invaders to the maximum.

So, you might be wondering how exactly you attack: is it by shooting lasers and other generic weapons? Of course not! You instead command the invaders surrounding your UFO to attack a target to destroy it via a set of orders. For example, they can simply swarm something, which deals relatively constant damage, but you might find this to be a bit weak. Therefore you can also get them to do other things, such as bundling together into a massive ball of invaders and bouncing across the landscape, crushing anything they hit! Of course, these stronger attacks take longer to perform, so you must be more careful not to get hit while they are being carried out.

If you’re being attacked by the army from all sides you can call forth an ultimate attack; the UFO and invaders will leave the screen for a moment, before a gigantic invader mothership comes down and deals massive damage to everything on-screen. When the UFO reappears after this attack, its invader supply is also completely maxed out.

Of course the bosses should not go without a mention as well. While they’re basically just giant war machines - such as enormous tanks or boats - the fights with them can become incredibly hectic. What do you do when a gigantic spider-shaped robot launches heat-seeking missiles, lasers, bullets and more at you, all at the same time? Simple, just break it down bit by bit! Every boss can be gradually broken down, which means that you can destroy each of its weapons one by one, making the fight a bit easier. Near the end they’ll usually try to go all-out though, so watch out!

Sealing the deal are the voice-overs during gameplay. You will constantly hear radio messages between members of the army, from lowly troops to high-ranking generals, ranging from insults such as ‘Take that, space weirdos!’ to their disappointment in losing.

There’s only one thing about Space Invaders Get Even that might put a lot of people off, it was originally meant to retail as a full Wii game, which means that it’s quite expensive and quite big. While the core game itself costs only 500 Wii Points, you’ll only get one mission (2 levels and a boss) with it. If you want to buy the other 6 missions you’ll have to cough up some serious cash. It’s 500 Wii Points for every 2 of them! You'll also get an extra ship to use with every pack. Pack 1 comes with a blocky red "classic" UFO which does nothing special, but the other packs both have a special ship which has completely new abilities - the trade-off being that high scores gained using these won't be registered on the leaderboards. Downloading the game and all extra missions will also take up tons of space - almost 700 blocks - so if you're struggling for storage (who isn't?) then you might want to bear this in mind before buying into the whole Space Invaders experience.

Conclusion

Space Invaders Get Even is a wonderful new take on the franchise. Reversing the roles was a stroke of genius. Blowing up buildings never gets old and it’s fun to be the bad guy every now and then. The cheesy voice-overs and ridiculous plot really just complement what is a very nice addition to the WiiWare service. The online leaderboards are a welcome addition too and will encourage you to push for the high scores. You just need to keep in mind that this is really a retail game which you can buy in instalments. The initial mission can be completed quite quickly, so to get the best out of this game we recommend setting aside an extra 1500 Wii points to buy all the content. 30 years later Space Invaders is still asking us to 'Insert Coin To Continue' and we're only too happy to comply!