Space Invaders

Space Invaders

Space Invaders - an all time classic that really launched the genre of the shoot em up arcade game.

Play space invaders again and see how it all began waaay back in 1978, and how it was re-vamped and polished for the 1990's gaming market with the likes of Super Space Invaders and Stardust (which was a very nice game on the ill fated Amiga CD 32).

Simple yet addictive, the likes of Space Invaders, Galaxian and Asteroids took the world by storm during the latter part of the 1970's and made trips to your local amusement arcade more than essential.

So let's have a look at a truly iconic gaming experience from the golden age of video gaming...

Invaders

Those pesky Space Invaders...
Those pesky Space Invaders...

Gameplay

Space Invaders was a flat shoot em up (or shmup) which involved the player controling a lazer gun which could move left or right across the bottom portion of the playing area.

This gun could only fire upwards at the ranks of the slow moving invaders. The concept of player power ups and bonuses was not yet a mainstream part of gaming.

The aim of the game was to defeat the invaders / aliens that moved horizontally back and forth across the screen and also descended downwards towards the players lazer cannon.

As the player takes out invaders their rate of movement speeds up, as do the in game sound effects. As the speed increases the sound effects become more frantic which did make the player sweat a little!

In fact this simple technique was again something quite special back in '78... the palms are sweating, there's one invader left, the mono-beeps are going crazy....

Clearing a screen of invaders means a fresh batch to destroy, with each new batch more difficult to blast away than the last.

The player has to avoid downwards fire and has barriers to hide behind which are slowly 'eaten away' by incoming invaders fire.

Every now and again a mother ship will move across the top portion of the game screen which can be shot for extra points.

If the invaders make it to the bottom area of the screen then the game was over, and the invasion was complete!

The game in action

Conversions of Space Invaders

Space Invaders was converted to pretty much every home computer and console under the sun.

This was back in the days were an un-official conversion could be released with no consequence, as long as it was named differently to the original version.

8-Bit machines such as the ZX80, ZX81, ZX Spectrum. Oric 1, Acorn Atom, Acorn Electron, BBC Micro, Commodore-16, Commodore 64, Vic 20 and Commodore 128 were treated with official and unofficial versions of the game.

The Atari 2600 Console was given the official port treatment (as you would expect) and as far as home versions go, this one was up there with the best of them.

Even the 16-bit machines such as the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga were blessed with multiple versions of Space Invaders.

Super Space invaders breathed new life into the classic game in the early 1990's and one of the best home versions was available for the Amiga CD 32 console.

Spectral Invaders

Spectral Invaders

Spectral Invaders was one of the hundreds of unofficial conversions for a home computer.

Bug Byte released this for the ZX Spectrum (16K Compatible!) in 1982.

As you can see in the video it is a blatant copy of the classic arcade game - and for a game from the very early years of the Speccy it plays very well.

It was these unofficial conversions that made the early days of home gaming so great...

Up close and personal

The famous Space Invaders pixels...
The famous Space Invaders pixels...

Legacy

This game is one of the grand-daddies of modern arcade gaming and is a true classic amongst retro arcade games.

It was a major phenomenon when released and was something quite revolutionary.

Of course it is extremely simple by todays standards, but the influence of Space Invaders cannot go un-noticed.

Even later PC games such as the 3D blaster 'Incoming' have roots in this golden age classic - taking the shoot em up element and ramping them up to excellent effect.

Versions of it are available to play as on of the many games online and the ever popular miniclip games.

TV advert for the Atari 2600 conversion of Space Invaders

Super Space Invaders

A re-vamped version of the game called 'Super Space Invaders' was released in 1991 and once again proved to be very popular.

It was given the full conversion treatment and found it's way on most home computers such as the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC 464 and Commodore Amiga as well as game-consoles that were popular during the early 1990's.

It should be noted that this newer version was also sometimes known as 'Majestic Twelve'.

The game pulled in the punters due to the excellent sound effects and stunning backgrounds - but after a short while gamers realised that the gameplay was not really that much more advanced than the original.

Even the 'cattle mutilation' sub-game was not enough to fully recapture the magic, although this did mean that it became known as a bit of a 'funny game'

As a consequence the ZX Spectrum version really suffers due to this as it could not re-create the lavish backdrops and colours...

Super Space Invaders - ZX Spectrum Version

Super Space Invaders - Commodore Amiga

Super Space Invaders - Arcade Version

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