Thanks to ININ Games for the review code
Title: Space Invaders Forever
Release Date: 12/15/2020
In this compilation of three modern Space Invaders gems, you take control to stop the invaders! Really, none of the included games here have much in terms of plot, with Arkanoid VS Space Invaders having the most in-depth one of the bunch, that basically consists of “go shoot the bad guys with the Vaus until they die”. This is an altered version of Space Invaders INVINCIBLE Collection, which launched in Japan this March and included these three games plus some retro Space Invaders titles, but this version is cut down for a budget offering. (And is the only option for PS4 folks, oddly enough)
The presentation here is an interesting aspect, as each of the three included games have a vastly different aspect ratio from one another: for the most part though, the game select menu is very effective and basic, and matches what was in IC, except now Arkanoid Vs Space Invaders is visible on this menu, when it was a separate app on the Switch. The three games included here, and notes on their presentation here are as follows:
Space Invaders Extreme: Originally for DS and PSP, this scorechasers goes for a colorful, Championship Edition-esque feel of the original Space Invaders formula, with fantastic music and a great style. Being based on the recent Steam port, this HD version looks better than ever and upscales extraordinarily well. (And is playable offline now)
Space Invaders GIGAMAX 4 SE: This is an odd one. Technically, it’s an Arcade game… Except it’s based off an amusement game that was played on a projector. Of course, such a gargantuan screen size couldn’t be copied to consoles as-is, so Taito just recreated the game itself for 16:9, and it sports some colorful backgrounds and funky tunes, being a lot simpler than Extreme, yet unique in its own right.
Arkanoid Vs Space Invaders: The strangest of the bunch, and the ones I was the most interested in checking out on PS4, since on the Switch, this game is a separate app and forces you to play in handheld vertical mode with no option to play on the TV. But on PS4? It plays on a normal HD TV display, in the original resolution surrounded by a border, and you use the touchpad + a virtual cursor to control the game. Besides the differing controls and the border, it’s 1:1 the same as the phone version, meaning it’s incredibly colorful, packed with Taito references, and good remixes of Arkanoid/Space Invaders tunes, but retains the same UI from the mobile game. A pretty great transition from Phone to HDMI!
Per my usual reviews of compilations, I break these down game by game after going over bonus features and the core UI: As noted above, there’s pretty much nothing to speak of in terms of bonuses of UI features, and oddly enough, the online leaderboard features from Invincible Collection are completely absent, making this all local-only for scorechasing purposes. Thus, you’ll have to stick to the individual games, and what they themselves have on offer.
Space Invaders Extreme: The most famous of the three on display, this scorechaser has a lot of branching paths, score bonuses, and cool powerups to take advantage of, and is a fan-favorite among a lot of scorechasers for a good reason. It’s just so much fun to mess around with, and the powerup system mandates you target enemies of a certain color in order to get what you want, so there’s a lot of strategy involved for scoring, moreso than you’d expect for a game like this! Definitely the best of the two scorechasers here.
Space Invaders GIGAMAX 4 SE: The weakest of the games on display, but also the most interesting. I already discussed this game’s odd presentation and how it was translated to the PS4, but in terms of gameplay? You don’t really have much to do in Gigamax 4 SE. Each stage is an assortment of space invaders, followed by another one, then a big boss enemy at the end. Being made for four players, the whole game becomes overwhelming in no time if you’re playing with any less than that, so you’ll pretty much have to continue spam in order to have a chance at seeing the ending. As a scorechaser it isn’t that interesting either, and is quite frankly, beyond boring, to the point the OG game has more engagement. Definitely a weak spot here.
Arkanoid Vs Space Invaders: Easily the biggest surprise of this compilation fro many, and a must-play if you can manage the odd controls. Being an iOS game converted for PS4 Touchpad play, you can only use the touchpad to play the stages, and the left stick for a virtual cursor for menus. It’s a simple Arkanoid spinoff where the space invaders are the blocks and you have to defeat them all before time runs out, as you go through 150 stages.
Tons of Taito references are included, and the coolest part is that a lot of the unlockable characters are from obscure games or franchises, such as Lufia and Ninja Warriors. Definitely the longest game in the collection, and well worth a playthrough for anyone with an interest in Arkanoid! I do wish the sensitivity was a bit better on the DS4, though, and it still is a phone game at the core, but when it’s one of the best iOS games on that market, ported lovingly like this? You get a really fun take on the formula.
In terms of bonus features, there are none. In fact, there aren’t even any online leaderboards that I could find, a departure from Invincible Collection, where online leaderboards were forced on you so hard to the point the retro games would bar you from making save states for the sake of saving local hi-scores, to the point the lack of local scores were infuriating. Yet, Extreme/Gigamax were the only ones in that compilation to have both options, and here we’re in the funny opposite, where only local scores are saved. It’s a big bummer in extreme’s case due to that game’s replay value, but it really doesn’t matter much for Arkanoid or Gigamax.
Thus, in a way, this is actually better than the Invincible collection, due to including only the games with local score saving and the most replay value! Plus on PS4 you have some achievements to unlock, with the Extreme ones being a lot of fun to go after, (the Gigamax ones barely exist and the Arkanoid ones just want you to beat everything) so that’s an exclusive bonus to this version.
In conclusion, while I was pretty disappointed with Invincible Collection due to the lack of local Hi-Score saving for the retro games, I always found Arkanoid and Extreme to be excellent ports that do offer local score saving, and the best of that package. Thankfully, Forever contains the best games from IC right here, for a much more reasonable $30 price point that makes this an absolute must-have solely due to the extraordinary quality of Arkanoid Vs Space Invaders and Extreme.
Gigamax is little more than a novelty, but is still a cool addition due to how these sorts of “giant arcade game” versions practically never get ported, and to see a good port of one makes it a great way to round out an already awesome package. With the insane amount of replay value from Extreme, and the lengthy content from Arkanoid Vs, you can’t go wrong with Forever, and even as the PS4’s only SKU of the collection, I feel it’s still worth a pickup, though if you’re wanting the retro games, regardless of the lack of local score saving for those, you can still buy Invincible Collection on the Switch via Strictly Limited.
I give Space Invaders Forever an 8 out of 10.