>> PennOaks.net > Archive 64 > Review House

Space Invaders

Rated E for Everyone


Nintendo 64 (N64)






December 1999

ROM Size:

64 megabits


One to Two Simultaneous


2D Shooter


Controller Pak (2 pages)


Rumble Pak



> Final Rating: 3.1 out of 5.0


You're playing with fire anytime you mess with a classic. It's a Catch-22 situation, because if the game is too much like the original, it will be deemed too simple. On the other hand, if too many changes are made, critics will say the game is radically different. Space Invaders has walked this fine line with encouraging results. While this version won't cause another revolution, it's a solid, fun game for people with that nostalgic feeling.

Gameplay & Control

Wisely, the developers of the game, Z-Axis left the core of Space Invaders intact. The individual graphics are 3D models, but the presentation is still 2D. So that means the game is still played on a single, flat screen. Enemies still slowly move down the screen in rows. One shot, unless you have a shield, still kills you. And scoring is still an important part of the game.


On the other hand, there are some changes and additions. Multiple power-ups are available, bosses will impede your progress, and two-player cooperative play has been included.


Power-ups come from two different sources: aliens and mother ships. Power-ups from aliens are acquired by filling your power-up energy bar. It will fill by shooting four consecutive enemies of the same type. If you shoot a different alien before filling the bar, however, it will empty. Some examples of power-ups from aliens include missile blasts (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and so forth), lasers, boomerangs, acidic clouds, and more. Power-ups from mother ships can be outfitted if you shoot their cargo to the ground. Shield, double shot, time stop, and maximum energy (for your power-up meter) are the possible additions to your Tank.


More aliens than ever need to be destroyed in this version of Space Invaders. Common species—red, blue, green, and yellow—exist on all planets and attack in large numbers. As you save more planets in the galaxy, enemies that are more difficult to destroy enter the picture. Some of these other enemies are known as Switcher, Blocker, Angler, and Burster. Some have extra protection, some are more deadly when they explode, and some are harder to track.


Your objective in Space Invaders is to save the galaxy. You have three lives and three continues on the default difficulty level to achieve this. Extra Tanks are awarded every 50,000 points. The action starts on Pluto, moves onto Neptune, Uranus, and others, and finishes on Earth. Each planet has 10 rounds of alien-blasting mayhem, with a bonus round of mother ships to destroy and a boss encounter at the end. In addition to including new enemies into the mix, each planet has a big, bad boss to annihilate. You face the polygon-based boss one-on-one (or two-on-one) and must figure out its pattern and weaknesses for a successful victory.


Possibly the biggest change to this Space Invaders update is your main weapon. Rapid fire is literally a thing of the past. You cannot fire another shot until your first one makes contact with something or flies off the screen—that is, unless you have the double shot power-up. It's annoying at first, but you'll get used to it once you take advantage of power-ups from aliens. A great addition is two-player cooperative play. The game's difficulty doesn't increase with two players, however, and this makes the game much easier.


Space Invaders doesn't inundate players with complex controls or useless options, either. The Control Pad or Control Stick is used to move your Tank, the A button fires your main weapon, and the B button uses the power-up from the alien if your meter is filled. That's it. In the Options menu, skill level (normal or expert), volume control (music and sound effects), and controller configuration all can be changed. You also can view high scores and credits. A final option is the ability to save your game in progress. With over 100 levels to conquer, that might not be a bad option. Oh yeah, did I mention that a version of the classic coin-op game is hidden inside?

Graphics & Sound

The graphics in Space Invaders best can be described as solid. A 640 x 480 high-resolution mode, which doesn't require the Expansion Pak, is used. The enemies are fairly detailed despite their small size. Most importantly, everything runs smoothly and quickly even with many enemies on the screen in the two-player mode. Explosions are somewhat impressive, as are the bosses. The backgrounds capture the outer space feel, but they also seem drab at times. Overall, it's a nice step-up from the original, but there's nothing spectacular here.


You would expect a sci-fi audio thrill with alien voices and creepy music, right? Well, that's not quite the case here. Techno music, which isn't bad at all, and big-bass sound effects comprise the audio side. It's as if sound was kept to a minimum.


Space Invaders on the Nintendo 64 is a decent, faithful update to the original. This may be one case, however, where more drastic changes would have helped. The game is a lot of fun with its two-player cooperative mode, but it will get old quickly otherwise. Only "twitch" gamers need apply.
















Not available.


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: February 25, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A




>> PennOaks.net > Archive 64 > Review House