Otaku USA Magazine
Space Invaders Extreme 2

m-SIE2 Box ArtI loved the first Space Invaders Extreme. Much like Pac-Man Championship Edition, it celebrated the anniversary of its namesake in proper fashion, not content with simply gussying up a relative relic with a fancy new paint job. While it was released on both PSP and Nintendo DS (and later ported to Xbox Live Arcade), I only gave the former version a shot, assuming both its pacing and visual style part of a superior product. However, with its sequel only available on DS, that thought has been completely shattered. As an update to a classic that bred something fresh, Space Invaders Extreme 2 is solid time spent no matter the platform.

It might even be a better fit on DS, with a visual downgrade from PSP that’s hardly noticeable on the smaller screen. The top screen allows for some creative, if somewhat busy, additions to the alien blasting that takes place on the bottom. Bonus rounds give way to golden baddies that drop a lot of scoring opportunities while larger foes dance about up top just waiting to be cleared with extreme prejudice. At other times it may be a color-coordinated Bingo Fever indicator, or perhaps a looming boss at a scale beyond the display’s capability; retro style writ large like a zoomed-in GIF of the original arcade enemies.

I haven’t spent any time with the aforementioned Xbox Live Arcade version of the first game, but I can’t imagine the series being a better fit on home consoles than portables. Not to sell it short like it’s a throwaway experience, but it’s the quintessential time killer. You may not sit around staring at it all day, but it’s one of the easiest games to bust out on a whim and pause at any moment, putting the DS back to sleep until the time is right again. My progress through the more difficult path—the levels branch out at intersections, giving the player a mid-journey option depending on current levels of masochism—was spread out over the course of a few days, pecking away here and there when free time allowed.

To me that’s the advantage of portable gaming, and it’s nice to see it employed well here. Space Invaders Extreme 2 is also, like its predecessor, a game that gets more fun as the stages get tougher. It can be hard at times to evenly spread your attention across both screens at once, but it’s not at the level of, say, Square Enix’s The World Ends With You. That was personally infuriating in a few ways; here it’s just mildly challenging. Bosses begin to bring with them an impressive level of challenge later on, as well. They change up patterns frequently, and aren’t afraid to rain down a relatively manic array of lasers and alien cannon fodder.

SIE2_REVIEW10What makes Space Invaders Extreme 2 a title I keep coming back to is how focused it is in spite of all that’s going on at any given moment. It’s a high-scorin’, leaderboard-toppin’ arcade shooter first and foremost. Despite its Lumines-like rhythmic flow, it isn’t dependent on any musical gimmickry, and for all of the BONUS! FEVER! BINGO! audio cues that pop up, it’s not as random as it appears at first glance.

Even if you slept on the first Extreme outing, this is a good place to hop on. New additions like Time Attack—which, as the name suggests, gives getting things done as quickly as possible priority over scoring—and revamped/adjusted features that stand the test of time all contribute to a solid package. It’s all the better if you have someone to tackle multiplayer with, but attempting to best this alien menace on your own is just as noble an endeavor.

Publisher: Taito

Developer: Project Just

System: Nintendo DS

Available: Now

Rating: E