Few names in videogames are more iconic than Space Invaders, and the Taito arcade classic has been an enduring one with tons of iterations over the course of roughly forty years. Space Invaders Forever is a compilation of three modern takes on the franchise, and it’s out now for PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch.
None of the games included in Space Invaders Forever are brand new, but rather ports of titles that were previously elsewhere: Space Invaders Extreme, Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE and Arkanoid vs Space Invaders. They all make their debut on the PS4 and Switch though, and all offer a retro approach with a modern twist.
Space Invaders Extreme is the only title in the package that I had previously played, as it appeared on Sony’s first handheld attempt, the PSP. At that time, I hadn’t played a Space Invaders game since the home port of Super Space Invaders, which is 30 years old now and a game I mainly remember for its awesome animated intro sequence. Space Invaders Extreme actually moved the franchise forward with gameplay innovations that focused on the scoring mechanics, with power-ups, special awards for shooting specific enemies in a certain order and the addicting element of chasing ever-higher scores.
In later ports, Space Invaders Extreme received multiplayer support, but although the core gameplay is still as fun as ever in this new version the multiplayer angle is not supported, which is definitely a shame. Not all is lost though, because this isn’t the only game in Space Invaders Forever.
Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE does in fact support multiplayer gameplay, so much so that it’s actually built around it. It’s a simple enough concept that doesn’t feature the deep scoring mechanics of Extreme, but it’s a lot of fun to play with others and stays true to the simple premise of the original game – only this time with friends shooting the aliens at the same time, which is especially fun when facing big boss fights.
Combining Space Invaders with another classic if Arkanoid vs Space Invaders, which fuses the granddaddy of all arcade shooters with the game that kickstarted the brickbreaker genre. Originally released as a mobile title, this port doesn’t do much to shed those origins, as the screen is essentially a blown up portrait display with unused borders on either side. You also use the DualShock’s touchpad to control the action, so even the mobile’s touch screen controls have sort of carried over. Nevertheless, bouncing stuff back at the incoming aliens is a lot of fun, and the addictive nature of the mobile game with its accessible gameplay and plenty of unlockable (Taito) content is alive and well on the PS4.
What’s good about this compilation is that all three games offer a distinctly different Space Invaders experience through their mechanics and controls. With a mobile port and a game that’s over 10 years old and lacks multiplayer support it’s a bit on the pricey side and I could see people waiting for a sale, but retro arcade fans will surely want to add this to their collection at some point.