Space Invaders Shoot Out

Space Invaders was released into the arcades in 1978 by Taito. It was an instant hit, causing coin shortages in Japan, as hordes of teenagers queued up to defend the Earth against lines of marauding aliens.

This grand-daddy of arcade games was ripe to home conversion – but which one of the many Spectrum clones could boats being the best?

Alien from Cascade games was the first one to go under the spotlight, and it didn’t fair too well. It was included in the famous Cassette 50 release, which only really sold because you got a free digital watch with it. The game is written in BASIC and suffers all of the usual problems with BASIC games. Slow, jerky graphics, simple sound and un-responsive control.

Next came Base Invaders (left) from Workforce, released in 1983. This game gave us large aliens and a tiny laser base, all with character based movement. Game-play suffered because of this and the game stopped to play sounds. Not a good game by any standards.

Classic Invaders was released much later in the Spectrum’s life, 1990 to be exact, and written by Alternative Software. Initial impressions were of a painfully slow game, despite nice smooth animated graphics. As more invaders are destroyed the game does speed up and can be challenging, but then it’s back to the crawling speed for the next level.

Artic Computing gave us Invaders in 1983, and this is the version I bought and grew up playing. It still plays great today with smooth, large and colourful invaders, great sound and challenging game-play. This game also has variations should the original format become stagnant; giving you things like diagonal invader missile to keep the game interesting. A great game that is well worth tracking down.

Design Design were known for technically good games, with hits like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and of course Dark Star. Their version, also called Invaders (left) seems to be more of a tech demo rather than a full blown game. It has great large smooth invaders and super game-play, but there is no sound at all. Also upon losing a life the game resets back to the full screen of invaders and there is no score or indication of remaining lives. A pity, really as this could easily be the winner.

Another game called Invaders came from DK’Tronics, a company who gave us some early gems, sadly this isn’t one of them. Small characters based invaders stutter across the screen at a fair pace making this game challenging, but for all the wrong reasons. The sound is also a let-down, dropping this game way out of contention.

Invasion from JK Greye gave us a poor implementation, with character based movement, sound that remind me of someone breaking wind in short bursts, and only average game-play. Let’s move on from this one.

Quicksilva, another well-known company, gave us Space Intruders in 1982, and when you think this game was up against Artic's version, it looks pretty poor in comparison. Small aliens move in characters jumps across the screen, and everything is jerky. Sound is adequate. Once you get over the looks though, the game-play is quite nice; it’s just a pity about the important aspects of the game.

Space Invaders should not be played on a blue screen – so Space Invader from Robert Spahl should be ignored. Not just for the blue screen however, but for the slow jerk-fest of a BASIC game that this proves to be.

The next game was heralded as the best Space Invader game for the Spectrum, and as soon as you start playing, you can see why. Space Raiders (left) from Sinclair gives you one hell of a game of Space Invaders. Large smooth invaders, good sound and great sound all add up to an excellent game. Despite reviewing this game, I couldn't help but go back for just one more try.

Bug-Byte released Spectral Invaders, a game with large smooth moving invaders that sadly suffer from flickering. Sad because this is a good game at heart but there are too many other problems. Sound is used sparingly and when you die you are blasted by white noise while the screen flashed red. You then have to press a key to get back to the action. This could have been much better.

Lastly comes Specvaders from Hewson Consultants. Luckily we can skip over this one quickly as it’s a jerky, slow game with poor controls and below average sound.

Episode 1 gives fuller reviews of all the games mentioned and concludes which is the winner.


Cynittha said...

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