GDC09: Space Invaders Extreme (XBLA) hands-on


I keep telling people I played Space Invaders Extreme at GDC, and they all say the same thing: "Dude, that's been out for a while." But, A-HA! It hasn't. The kicker is that the DS and PSP versions have been out for so long that the DS version already has a sequel out (in Japan), but the XBLA version is brand new and comes out at the end of April. "Yeah," you're saying, "but it's a downloadable Space Invaders title. What do I care?" Well, if you like having fun, then you'll care aplenty.

The game scored 84 and 85 on the PSP and DS respectively on Metacritic, and the XBLA version just improves on those versions. We spent some hands-on time with the game at GDC, and you can see what we thought after the break. Peep the new video above, the gallery below, and blast your way on in.
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If you had a chance to play Space Invaders Extreme on the DS or PSP, you'd know how it visually embraces its 8-bit roots. These are still your father's Space Invaders, but with ultra-straight HD lines (no jaggies!) and a lot of upgrades. The gist of the game is pretty much the same as it's ever been: blast aliens trying to invade the earth. But they've added things like powerup bonuses: shoot four enemies of the same color (except white, they don't count) and a power-up will drop. We cycled through three different ones which included mega-giant shot, wide shot, and super laser blast. The laser is definitely the coolest looking out of the bunch, sending up a huge blue flare of laser light that obliterates everything in its path.

There's a special flashing saucer that whizzes by overhead, and when you hit it you'll get transported right into an in-level minigame. You'll have to kill a certain number of foes within a time limit to put yourself into Fever Time, where you can really kick ass for a limited amount of time. You'll also encounter bosses, which are ginormous versions of the little Invaders that utterly dwarf your ship. You have to blast through their blocks (they look like they're made of giant pixels) in a sort of Breakout fashion and destroy the flashing block in their center.

The game features fast-paced electronic tunage and new music visualizers created just for the Xbox 360, as well as several different multiplayer modes, ranging from vs. to co-op, both local and online with up to four players. The game is due at the end of April, and pricing hasn't been announced yet, but we imagine it'll be in line with other XBLA arcade titles. Though it may not offer deep, strategic gameplay (or fancy three-dee graphics), it's good, addictive fun. There's a few more surprises we can't talk about just yet (damn embargoes!), but we'll be telling you about them soon.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.