Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
Space invaders, over time, has become a classic game referenced when we think back about “the good ol’ days of gaming”. When things were simple and competitive, and when finding an expert for a certain title made them an instant nerd, which didn’t used to be a good thing. Originally released in 1978 as an arcade title, the game has gone through several transitions onto computers and console platforms all around the world. The premise was simple, as rows of aliens came plummeting down to earth on your black and white screen, the player used their ship to shoot cannons at the targets and rack up as many points as possible. Developer for the title, Tomohiro Nishikado, was a huge fan of War of the Worlds and Star Wars. While many of you young whipper snappers went to the opening weekend of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and thought you were the biggest fan that existed of the series, Nishikado was doing real nerd things, like reading the actual book series and watching the release of Episode IV in 1977.
Gameplay is about as simple as it gets. Pixilated square like ships move down in rows toward the bottom of your screen where your ship is located. The player can move the ship left or right, and fire a cannon at the oncoming alien army. That’s it, left, right, shoot. Something that can easily be taken for granted, until you know what went into making it. Nishikado had to not only come up with the title but also had to custom design hardware and development tools themselves to launch the original arcade title.
Since that time Space Invaders has become a social sensation with art making its way from everything including alternate video game titles to t-shirts. At one point the demand for the arcade machines was so great that specialty arcades opened store fronts with nothing but Space Invader machines. 100,000 machines grosses over $600 million by the end of 1978, which translates to over $2 billion in today’s money. We are talking about in one year, Nishikado created a sensation that is equal to two trips to the moon and back, or the yearly salary of Mark Zuckerberg! Great video game developers went on to create incredible titles with inspiration from Space Invaders. Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima, Father’s of Nintendo and Metal Gear, have both made public statements honoring Nishikado and his work on Space Invaders as pushing them to make great titles.
It’s easy to see why something this simple could become so addicting. The game goes on continuously until the player is destroyed, which means playing to stack points is the name of the game. Without the invention of this title all those little games we used to play on our flip phones would never have existed. The game paved the way to evolve into everything from simple mobile titles to games like Ikaruga, an integrated and in-depth, fast paced vertical shooter, which in my opinion is one of the best of all time.
These days, updated versions of Space Invaders can be bought on pretty much any platform. From current generation, to PC, to mobile devices, and back again, players can enjoy one of the original titles that started it all. In my mind, players everywhere should play it, or some version of it at least once in their time. Not many games can be given this much credit. That’s why…
Space Invaders Gets
5 Out of 5
+Custom development tools and hardware
+Sound effects and music
+Simple play style that changed gaming as we know it
-Black and white screen can make your eyes hurt (it’s worth it.)
3 thoughts on “Space Invaders Retro Review”
Now that I think about it, there’s an instrumental Pretenders song called Space Invader. Nearing the end of the song, you can hear sound effects from the game.
Interestingly, we have Space Invaders to thank for popularizing the concept of a game getting more difficult as a level continues. The reason the aliens speed up is because CPUs at the time had trouble animating that many sprites at once. Therefore, by removing them, they became faster as the computer had to do less work. It wasn’t discovered until Mr. Nishikado tested the game for himself, but he liked the effect, so he left it in.
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I’m glad he did!
I didn’t have any clue about that. That’s really awesome.