Oh sweet hell yes. After two hard months of playing games like Crystal Castles and Ghostbusters, games that make me want to hate the very concept of the “video game”, this, at long last, is my payoff.
Space. Fuckin. Invaders.
The game is elegant in its simplicity: Aliens want to invade Earth. You are the last line of defense. You have three cannons with which to destroy the invading army, one wave at a time. Although the Invaders are tactically retarded, they have an infinite number of troops to throw at the planet. All it takes is a single slip-up to damn mankind forever. Your mission is simple: Hold off the Invaders for as long as you can.
The great thing about Space Invaders is that while it is a pretty easy game, you only have to screw up once to end the game. And as you kill more Invaders, the surviving ones move faster and faster, so that a split-second’s slip up will end the game. The game has a constant tension built into it, you can never autopilot through. This tension is why, 30 years after its release, the game holds up perfectly.
Oh dang, do I love every little detail about this game: I love the sound of the ever-quickening Invader’s march. I love shooting through your shields. I love killing two Invaders with one shot on the bottom row. I love that you can cheat.
I love the look of the game. While the game isn’t exactly pretty looking, it sure has got graphical style. Just look at the Invaders: Bicycle Helmet Alien, Billy Crystal from Monsters Inc. Alien, Squiddy Alien, Jumping Jack Alien, Sorta Looks Like a Skull Alien, and Goofy Antennae Alien. They’re all awesome looking! Also awesome looking: Your shields, your cannon, and the missiles.
And Intended or not, Space Invaders presents a strong artistic statement : The Invaders will never stop. There are no 1 ups. When you fail, and you will fail, the whole planet dies with you. All you can do is hold the monsters at bay for as long as possible before succumbing to inevitable death. That sort of doomed romance is what I’m all about.
Space Invaders is one of my very favorite video games, and I mean THIS one, the Atari version. The game is an arcade port, but to me, it feels less like a port, and more like a full-remake. The graphics are more attractive and the gameplay has been sharpened. The end result is perfection. Without this game, there really isn’t sufficient reason to own an Atari. However, since this game exists, the Atari 2600 is a necessary component of any video gamer’s library. This was the first perfect video game.
Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.