NUON Game Review
The arcade classic, Space Invaders, is back just the way you remember it! Battle wave after wave of alien attack squadrons as they march down through the scary sky. Play with or against your friend in special cooperative/competitive modes, or go head to head in battle mode.
A venerable classic in videogame history, Space Invaders has been reincarnated numerous times on various gaming platforms over the years. Now, courtesy of Taito and Matahari studios, comes Space Invaders XL, an “enhanced” version of the classic arcade game for NUON enhanced DVDs. If you’ve seen the screenshots then you’ve probably been either a) less than impressed with the visuals or b) happy to see the game stays true to the original. Well, SIXL does stay true to the original but could also use a facelift to give it a more up-to-date feeling that would put the NUON processor through its paces.
There are multiple modes of play to Space Invaders XL, four classic renditions (classic, overlay, reflector and color) that recreate the experience of playing the game on various arcade machines with different features. Classic is straight-up black and white, Overlay creates bands of color across the screen for simplistic color effects, Reflector features a large planet/celestial background that gives the game some life, and Color assigns specific colors to the different enemies and objects on-screen. These four games all play exactly the same – the only changes are graphical elements. Good for those looking for the true old school feel they had back in the dark, smoke-filled arcades of their youth, though the appeal tends to wear of quickly.
Luckily there are a few more play modes to keep the game feeling fresh, and to give you reason to come back for a few more plays. Time Attack features the most updated look in the game (see above), where the backgrounds and enemy formations change between waves, hitting an enemy results in a pixel-shatter-like explosion, and where there are new graphics for your ship, enemies, etc. In this mode it’s a play-till-the-enemy-reaches-the-bottom, unlimited-lives free-for all that gives you a decent one-player experience.
But, if you’ve got a significant other/parent/sibling/friend that usually doesn’t like games, show them the ropes in Battle Mode. Here, you’ve got different colored baddies amongst the normal white ones that do different things when you hit them. Hitting a green enemy makes the whole row disappear, red ones make both your and your opponent’s invaders move down two rows, hitting your color makes just your opponent’s invaders go down one row and hitting your opponent’s color does just the opposite. Phew. It sounds complicated but it’s really easy to pick up and is a blast to play, even before you completely understand what’s going on. Play a few rounds and you’ll be strategically waiting for certain colors to appear before firing away. This mode can also be played alone against a computer opponent, but is much more fun played against a human player – and it’s easily the best mode in the game.
In-game music ranges from decent to “nails on a chalkboard.” Obviously (hopefully?) they were going for a “retro” sound to accompany the graphics, but it could have been done better. Being a port from a Japanese PSX version of the game, the music is mostly of the happy/upbeat variety with a few more menacing-sounding songs thrown in there as well. Definitely not the game’s high point.
There was a certain demographic that this game is going to appeal to, and that’s the so-called “casual gamer.” The kind that usually won’t buy games, but might if they’ve got a NUON-enhanced DVD and see a title like SIXL and remember playing it long ago. Hell, when I mentioned to my mom that this game was coming out she immediately got excited and said “Oh, I can play you at that!” And she wasn’t kidding – the day I came home with this we played a few rounds and she had a blast. All this from a person whose videogaming begins and ends with solitaire on a normal day.
But is that really a good excuse? Sure, fine the game is “arcade perfect,” but should that prevent what’s here from being on the same disk as a more updated, perhaps 3D, version to keep the game up-to-date? We’ve seen updated Space Invaders from Activision on various platforms with better graphics that keep the classic gameplay intact – and that’s what we should have on this disk for NUON, with the existing content on as additional options to the player. Instead we’re left with a great two-player mode, a mediocre update, and 4 variations of the true classic.
Is it worth your $30 or so? If you’re a hardcore gamer who appreciates the classics, a non-gamer who wants a trip down memory lane, or want a simple and addictive two player game, then go for it. If you’re looking for an all-new Space Invaders with 3D rendered graphics, bosses and the whole works then look elsewhere. Breaking out your Atari 2600 and Space Invaders cartridge will give you a similar feeling and will save you thirty bucks.
Graphics – 6
Sound/Music – 3
Control – 8
Fun Factor – 7
Overall (not an average) – 60%
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