Sunday, 9 August 2009

Space Invaders Infinity Gene Review (iphone/ipod touch)


Chances are that unless you’ve been living on a different planet for the last thirty years, you probably have a pretty comprehensive idea of what Space Invaders is. For those of you who are new to Earth or are just intrigued to know what I learnt from reading Wikipedia, here’s a brief history.

Space Invaders was first unleashed onto the unsuspecting Japanese arcades back in 1978, quickly becoming the most popular game on the market. The game was so popular in fact, that it was actually reported to be responsible for a temporary shortage of 100 yen coins in Japan at that time. With this kind of success, it wasn’t long before Space Invaders saw fit to invade western arcades to a similarly warm reception.

The original king of the arcades

The game consisted of a block of equally spaced aliens, slowly inching towards the player by moving horizontally across the screen, jumping down one space when it reaches the edge and moving back in the other direction. Players were required to eliminate the invaders before they reached their base at the bottom. As the player progressed through the levels the rate at which the invaders moved, steadily increased until it became nearly impossible to progress any further. Arguably the main hook of the title was the fight for high score dominance that it inspired in highly competitive gamers.

Following its arcade success, Space Invaders has appeared on a number of different consoles in varying forms. One of the more recent reboots was a title named Space invaders Extreme, a game which aimed to maintain the same feel, whilst heavily modernizing the game play. I personally haven’t had the chance to play it yet, but Tobin and Yuzo gave it a shining review on Noobtoob episode 142 This leads us nicely to the subject of this review ‘Space Invaders Infinity Gene’


The game starts off very similar to the original


Space Invaders Infinity Gene (SIIG) has a very similar ideology to Space Invaders Extreme when it comes to re-imagining the franchise. However this time round Taito have taken the actual game play in a significantly different direction. As some of you may have inferred from the title, SIIG puts a heavy emphasis on evolution. This involves evolving game play mechanics, an evolving ship and I’m sure Taito would argue an evolved franchise.

Game Play

SIIG begins with you playing the original arcade version of Space Invaders for roughly fifteen seconds, but then things start to change considerably. As you watch your ships Pokémon style evolution you are treated to a quote from Charles Darwin, which states that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”. It’s not long before you realize just how appropriate this quote is. When you are reintroduced into the game, you’ll find that your ships cannons have been improved and that the enemy attack patterns have changed. The more you play, the more level design, enemies and your ship all change. You control the ship with a touch and drag interface, with the ship automatically firing unless you elect to control it yourself. Within a few levels you’ll find yourself gaining full movement along both axis and having to get used to a vertically scrolling environment. In essence Space Invaders evolves into a shmup.

This a whole different kettle of metaphor than what you’re used to

I’m almost certain that this revelation has resulted in a number of groans out there, but fear not, SIIG is rather good at what it does. One major advantage that this title has on other titles is that it never forces to learn via rote. It’s very rare for you to be restricted to a space of a few pixels and when you are, it’s normally because you haven’t dealt with enough of the enemies. Success in SIIG results from you being dynamic in your approach, not from having a good memory. That said the action does get rather insane at times, forcing you to react really quickly. This brings me to one of the games minor annoyances. Often when you’re hovering in the middle of the screen, enemies will fly in from the side so fast that even Chuck Norris would have his ass handed to him. What this essentially means is that you are for all intents and purposes, limited to the bottom of the screen the majority of the time.

Things can get a bit hectic at times

There are seven different ships made available to you throughout the game, all of which have their own unique attack style. These include: rapid shot, search laser, wave, lock-on, gravity, round and classic. Each of these unique weapons can be improved upon by collecting chromosomes scattered around the play area, increasing shot speed, radius and number of shots.

The campaign spans across 18 levels, the majority of which have some form of ending boss attached. One interesting aspect of the campaign menu is that the menu takes the form of a tree, whereby as you unlock upgrades and extras they sprout out of the level on which they were attained. It’s a very clever way of presenting the menu and leads to the pleasant consequence, that the majority of players are going to have different menus, dependent on how they’ve played. You’re not restricted to just the campaign mode though, in fact in some senses you’re not really restricted at all. Courtesy of the 3.0 firmware, it is now possible to play along to the tracks on your device, which essentially means there are an infinite number of different scenarios that you can play through. This is quite exciting as far as I’m concerned, but I don’t think it’s reached its full potential yet. The arenas produced by your music are all varied and very cool, but what I really want from this game is to be able to compete with other player scores like in Audiosurf.


Everything in this title reeks of quality. The retro style vector graphics look absolutely stunning throughout and the animation is consistently sleek and simple. The soundtrack is similarly pleasing… that is as long as you’re not adverse to a smattering of techno. The majority of sound effects are ripped right from the original and nicely supplement the retro theme. All in all, the presentation is just lovely.


So… is it worth your money, that’s the important question. Well, for a miniscule cost of £2.99 I’d say so. Space Invaders Infinity Gene is a highly charming return to a franchise that’s older than life itself (note: not factually accurate), so go and give it a chance to suck you into the world of high scores and vector graphics once again… it’s well worth your time (not unlike a more exciting version of your grandparents).


Graphics- 4.5/5
Value for money-4.7/5

Two thumbs up, go and get it if you’re looking for a nice brief distraction from the gaming drought.

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