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This game is a joy to play. It takes a simple game concept from the past and gives it some refreshing updates with some new twists that don’t destroy the nostalgia of the original. I particularly liked the way the save feature works as you aren’t forced to play for a set amount of time before being able to save (even though you have to answer several prompts to do it). Any fan of classic gaming should be able to appreciate this game to its fullest extent -- especially since the original is hidden within and several other references are made to it. Even if you aren’t necessarily into classic gaming but just want to play something simpler than your average game these days, this one may be for you, which is why I give this game a score of 85.
Diehard fans of the original will be pleased to know that the classic game in all of its cheesy glory is hidden here as well. Of course, you could always bust out the Atari 2600 and the original home cartridge from 1980 for that truly authentic feel, if you haven't already sold it on eBay.
Activision and developer Z-Axis have recreated and revamped Space Invaders for Nintendo 64 in full, but they've also preserved the overall design and feel of the classic. So, we have basic scroll and shoot mechanics combined with an intuitive new bonus projectile system that injects much more strategy and technique into mindlessly blowing away aliens. And we've got the same 2D design with the addition of new 3D polygon models and realistic background images. There is even a fun two-player mode. The title has some definite shortcomings in the visual department (even though it runs in high-resolution mode) and, even now, some comparatively primitive, downright generic polygon models and backgrounds. But, as any Space Invaders fan will attest to, the game is not about pretty visuals, it's about addictive mechanics and points.
I've played lots of games over the years that were basically revisions of Space Invaders. I think my favorite was "Better Dead Than Alien" on the Atari ST. Scored high for silliness and graphics. The thing that really surprised me about this N64 version of Space Invaders is not the deficiencies, which were minor, but that it's not really anything new. I generally expect that a new version will actually introduce something interesting. This incarnation of Space Invaders just seems to be relying on its name. It hasn't brought anything new to the table. Still, it's always fun saving the planet.
Space Invaders on the Nintendo 64 is the update of the classic one would expect to see on lesser consoles; its improvements are smart, logical and add depth to the original, but on a platform that transformed franchises like Mario and Zelda into living, breathing worlds, it's a pity another classic ready, willing and deserving of the transformation didn't see the same. These forces could be fiercer, more intimidating, more dangerous. The backdrops could be wondrous, fully-realized portrayals of the solar system; stale, stagnant surfaces simply don't inspire. The bosses could sport an ounce of creativity. Much like 1943 was an improvement over 1942, this Space Invaders is an improvement over the original. But this was a time when Strikers 1945 was already the norm; Nintendo 64 Space Invaders was behind the times at its release, and though a solid time killer, doesn't look any more spectacular today.
Every now and then, a game comes along that begs the question: "Why? Oh, God, why?" That's the case with the confusing, nonsensical and otherwise redundantly silly Space Invaders. Further capitalizing on its remakes of older games, Activision brazenly remade the classic alien shooter into a game that requires the exact same skill -- moving a shooting platform back and forth destroying aliens as they descend on the hapless unit. Don't start drooling yet! The 3D units move in a 2D plane, and while this updated version has powerups and end-level bosses, the game is exactly what you'd expect -- a prettier Space Invaders -- no less, and certainly no more.
Space Invaders is a game different enough to cancel any feelings of nostalgia, yet it isn't good enough to stand on its own. If classic games are what you're after, get a pack of classic games, or better yet, find a big arcade that still cares about the old stuff. This pretender is no substitute for the original.