No game stirs childhood memories for me as much as Space Invaders. Having wasted many hours during the late 70s pouring coins into the Space Invaders machine in the fast food place down the road, I would go to sleep with pixellated aliens marching relentlessly across my vision.
The original Space Invaders has inspired hundreds of similar arcade games over the years (not to mention Human Space Invaders!). The original Space Invaders publishers, TAITO, have released a couple of versions for the iPhone: Space Invaders (a clone of the original) and the marvellous Space Invaders Infinity Gene.
Space Invaders reloaded
This game isn’t just Space Invaders with a few extra bells and whistles – it’s a complete rethink of the game. Putting aside the fact that it’s based on one of the classic arcade games of all time, Space Invaders Infinity Gene is one of the best arcade shooters on the iPhone that I’ve ever played.
The game starts much like the original game, but quickly evolves into a much more fast-paced affair, with all sorts of baddies zooming over the screen. You also get to move your ship up and down as well as the usual left and right (now there’s progress!). It can get quite hectic at times, but fortunately you can move the ship by touching anywhere on the screen, so your finger doesn’t get in the way. You don’t have to worry about shooting either, as the ship auto-fires constantly.
Each level features the old “flying saucers across the top” from the original Space Invaders; however rather than giving you extra points, these drop power-ups when you shoot them. Power-ups increase the strength of your ship’s firepower – very useful near the end of a level (especially as many levels feature bosses at the end).
Different each time you play it
What makes Space Invaders Infinity Gene so good is that it’s constantly changing as you play it, and it has a near-infinite variety of levels (hence the name). As you score points your gene counter increases; once it reaches a certain level the game “evolves”, unlocking new weapons, features, and bonus levels.
You can customise the game once it’s “evolved” sufficiently. For example you can increase the number of stock (reserve ships) per game (though anything other than the default of 3 voids your high score), as well as choose easy, normal and hard difficulty levels.
As if all that weren’t enough, there’s the glorious “Music” mode. Pick a track from your iPhone’s music library and the game makes up a level based on that track, which you play while listening to the song. Each track produces a different level (though the level is the same each time you play that track). This great idea adds a huge amount of re-playability to the game. The number of levels is limited only by the number of songs in your iPhone!
If I had to criticise this game, I’d say that it’s hard to work out which blobs will hurt you and which won’t (as well as what you can shoot and what you can’t). You do learn after a bit of practice though. As a general rule, I’ve found that if it’s solid it’ll kill you; if it’s hollow it won’t!
The game also seems memory-hungry and suggests rebooting the phone every other time I launch it (although I haven’t actually had to reboot yet).
Space Invaders Infinity Gene is a superb rethink of the original Space Invaders game. The designers have obviously thought hard about how to take the original, repetitive game to the other extreme by making something that feels “new” each time you play it.
A definite evolution. Get it now!