They're back - and this time they're a bit miffed

Super Space Invaders logo

DOMARK * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Everybody knows just about all there is to know about Space Invaders. It is basically the game that launched a hundred clones, a thousand addicts and ten thousand petty thefts as kids robbed their grandparents to pay for it. Ultimately I guess that without that game I wouldn't be in this job. I'll kill the guy responsible if ever I meet him.

This time around though, the scenario is slightly different. Eighty years hence the last remaining Space Invaders machines have been cast into space. The earth just ran out of room for them and since everyone was capable of beating the things five minutes after birth it seemed pointless keeping them hanging around.

After all, this space could be used to house 50 families in the biological equivalent of a file-archiving system developed by a scientist searching for a cure for AIDS. One such machine collided with a satellite and careered off into deep space. Light years later a cosmic bag-lady found the machine and decided to flog it to the authorities.

They analysed it and decided that the tactics used by the aliens on the machine could be adapted to make a perfectly usable strategy for wiping out the population of a planet. With a finely honed sense of irony the aliens decided to give it a try on the planet from which the machine came - Earth.

This brings us back to the age old scenario - the earth is under threat from a race of aliens and you are the poor schmuck who has to throw away his life trying to save everyone else.
But the twist is that these aliens are only marginally less thick than the originals. This means that they still hang around in big groups and are reliant on huge numbers slowing down the processor enough to make them look as though they are moving really fast.

In another act of crass stupidity they have motherships which instead of just giving you points give you power-ups as well. I mean, stupid or what? - giving the opposition weapon is really thick! It's like selling arms to Iraq or Libya.

Apart from that, the gameplay remains much the same. There are new attack patterns but the basic idea of stopping the aliens from reaching the ground is still there.
The big change comes in the graphics. A wide range of alien spacecraft compete against grotesque creatures for the Most Garish Alien Thingy award. And all this action generally takes place on fully colour backgrounds that make my favourite shirt look tame.

So, does it maintain the tradition? Despite the graphics, sound and ace cartoon intro it lacks a certain something. The addictive qualities of the original are not there, probably because the simplicity has gone.

The other strange thing is that a little variety seems to be worse than none at all in this game. You notice the same aliens reappear, the same power-ups and it all begins to get just that little bit boring. The original was OK because you expected it to be the same. This version puts variety on the agenda and fails to fulfill its obligations to diversity and present a general difference of style.

So, it is nowhere near as good as the original, and nowhere near as good as a lot of other games, but it happily diverts the odd fifteen minutes or so every now and then. But then so does a cup of tea.



Super Space Invaders logo

A reworked classic or old hat? Has Super Space Invaders got the power to dominate the early Nineties like they did in the late Seventies?

Know the name Toshihiro Nishkado? Well, he's enriched popular culture with language, concept and myths. He has directly influenced your life. Who is he? He's the guy who invented the Space Invaders way back in 1978, when the pixel warriors came close to ruling the computer game world. Now they're back: bigger meaner and more devious than ever. But can the good old boys still cut it as threatening super nasties in the alien-infested Amiga world of the 90s?

Super Space Invaders takes the old theme - waves of little people slowly wandering down screen - up-rates the graphics, adds some ultra-mean new formations, invents whole new races of invaders, nicks your shields, adds some player power-ups and includes some truly silly bonus rounds. They may look like trimmings but they pull the gameplay up by the joystick lead.

It came from outer space
Super Space Invaders is a nostalgia trip, and the rose-tinted specs are pulled on the second that the title music starts up Authentic - not copied or imitated or recreated - Invader pings act as percussion to a War of the Worlds-theme pastiche, so you know you're in for a magical history tour.

When the first wave kicks on screen there's a rush of deja vu, these little critters sure look smooth - no pixelly blocks here - but they are positively identifiable as the same folk who tried to take over 13 years ago. Your base ship is familiar too, as it scrolls across the base of the screen shooting single shots at the space horde.

The Invaders wobble to each side of the screen, deceinding one line at a time until they reach the bottom. You have to blast the entire wave before they reach ground zero. The old tricks still work, such as blasting the end of the wave to make them walk further and give you more time, the old faithful alien mothership still slinks across the top; but that's where the similarity ends.

War of the worlds
Kill a mother ship and instead of points (the old way) a power-up pod drops. Grab the power up, pull down on the stick and see what happens: it's Space Invaders heaven - for you, not them - because all the weapons you could ever wanted are offered. Beam lasers are the best, producing a vertical line of alien death that can be swept across the screen.

Time stops are handy, freezing the little space folks while a butterfly flies up the screen. Laser waves can be sent up to destroy the lowest line of aliens. Firestorm swirls can be launched into their midst. And random fireworm trails can be used to mess up even the tightest Invader line.

The power-ups aren't the only improvement to the classic Invaders structure, now there are end-of-level baddies and bonus rounds too. The guardians are a series of big guys who need the power-up treatment to be seen off with speed. Filling most of the screen they hurtle around throwing as many laser bolts as they can muster.

If you don't happen upon a a guardian at the end of a wave then a bonus round awaits. This section - based on 1950s' American UFO hysteria - is all about saving cows from Bovine-napping. A series of sitting-duck invaders come on for target practice at first, but eventually a cow will become spooked and a tractor-beam alien screams down to try and carry them away. Killing the Invader, but not the cow, earns extra points and a thank you from the grateful burger-to-be. Keep all six cows safe and there's an even bigger bonus awaiting you: the Defender of the Earth.

The waves themselves aren't all true Invaders. In their years off, space peeps have obviously been negotiating with Galaxians, Gorfs, Phoenix and a whole host of other arcade bad guys. They've swapped tactics so attack waves can take any form. Knowing what each wave will do affects your strategy and repeated play is the only way you can learn. But that little problem should take care of itself, Invaders is classic fun.


"It's not like the original", but Invaders on the Amiga is definitely its own game

Plan 9 from outer space
Amiga Invaders are different, in a number of significant ways to their arcade cousins. Screen shape is the most telling, the arcade machine had a tall thin display while the conversion has a wider, monitor-shaped screen. The arcade is a speed machine, while the Amiga flavoured ones are slower. The coin-op doesn't have simultaneous two-player mode, but the conversion has. The information bars are displayed at the base of the cabinet version but the computer's has side panels which are clearer and easier to read. Graphically, the two are close enough to be twins, but soundwise the Amiga wins hands down.

These differences affect play. Speed is the common gripe, the Amiga moves its space monsters far slower than the coin-op. As everything is slower though, it is not to the detriment of the game. The atmosphere changes as a result, from an adrenaline pumping shoot-em-up to a tense test that gets the palms sweating as the chromium chaps get ever closer.

The slower start speed also makes the change of pace which accompanies the whittling down of invaders - as their numbers thin they move much faster - far more obvious. The slowish start speed may make some rabid conversion pedants froth, "it's not like the original", but Super Space Invaders on the Amiga is most definitely its own game.

Invasion of the bodysnatchers
The change in pace from coin-op to computer is a moot point, but all the other additions and variations give the conversion a positive edge. Two-player simultaneous mode is the most obvious and helpful of these, because waves can be cut down to size with speed if a coordinated plan is adhered to. The screen mode lends itself better to the format, the waves are wider and harder to dash past, while it offers more safe zones beyond the Invaders' reach.

Super Space Invaders is a good, arcade-inspired blast. It encompasses the best features of both original Invaders and the Super variety. It will never be something you play hour after hour, it's an arcade blast! It'll be played when you want a challenge but not an exam; when you want to kill something but haven't got the energy for a full-blooded shoot-em-up.

If you lived through the first wave of Invadermania, the Super Space will have a stronger grip than if you ht arcades afterwards, but ancient history is fun for all ages.

Super Space Invaders' charm is timeless, the game format is still a winner 13 years after the original. Cheers Mr Nishkado.



Super Space Invaders logo

Vor einiger Zeit stellte Taito eine aufgebohrte Version des Arcade-Klassikers "Space Invaders" in die Spielhallen, und siehe da, es gab Leute, die Münzen einwarfen. Grund genug für Domark, das Teil auf Amiga-Format zu quetschen...

Am Anfang ist die Freude groß, denn es läuft ein bezauberndes Intro samt einer herrlich ironischen Vorgeschichte. Beim zweiten Durchgang hat sich die Begeisterung schon etwas gelegt, da man den ellenlangen Vorspann nicht abbrechen kann. Und spätestens nach dem dritten Anlauf hat man begriffen, daß trotz mondäner Aufmachung letztlich wieder nur ein Mini-Raumschiff (per Stick) am unteren Screenrand entlangbewegt wird, um die erbarmungslos herabsinkenden Alienformationen zeitgerecht zu rösten. Na, immerhin dürfen hier auch zwei Spieler simultan ballern.

Dank zweier Schwierigkeitsgrade, Schutzschild, vier Leben und drei Continues sind die 12 (grafisch unterschiedlichen) Level keine große Herausforderung, zumindest sobald man mit den Angriffstatistiken der Gegner klarkommt: Mal bewegen sie sich horizontal, dann kreisförmig, ein andermal stürzen sie sich à la "Phönix" auf das Spieler-Sprite.

Dazu gibt's Extra-waffen, Endgegner und einen "Defender"-ähnlichen Bonuslevel, in dem Kühe vor Ufos gerettet werden.

Also ein alter Hut mit neuen Futter, den man mehr schlecht als recht aufpoliert hat: Zwar gibt es hörenswerte Musik bzw. Effekte, aber die Hintergründe sind öde, die Gegner farblos und zudem kaum oder ruckelig animiert. Als kleine Zwischendurch-Ballerlei mag Super Space Invaders ja ganz witzig sein, aber knapp 90 Mäuse für ein bißchen Nostalgie? (rl)



Super Space Invaders logo

Who'd have thought it - that at the tail of 1991 we'd find ourselves reviewing this, the great grand daddy of all arcade games, once again? But it's happened...

It would probably come as a surprise of molecular proportions if I was to tell you that Super Space Invaders is, in fact, little more than an up-to-date version of the ancient Space Invaders coin-op with all the proverbial knobs on. It would probably come as equally little surprise if I was to tell you that I am currently standing on my head with a small carrot lodged up my left nostril and a pair of Y-Fronts strategically pulled over my head in hope that this will provide me with suitable inspiration to describe what the game involves beyond resorting to the old "all you do is move left and right and shoot things" standby. It hasn't. All that you do in Super Space Invaders is move left and right and shoot things.

Even though (as we've just established), all you do is move left and right and shoot things, appropriate modifications would have to be adopted to bring Space Invaders up to the standards of the nineties. But what would you, the reader, do if whilst sitting on the loo browsing through this hallowed issue of AMIGA POWER, there was a faint tapping on the door and an anonymous piece of paper slipped onto the carpet informing you that you had to re-write one of the great classics of all time this very instant? Here are a few suggestions:

Obviously, the first thing that could be improved upon on the original are the graphics. The sprites could now be a multitude of animated, colourful evil-looking aliens, they could be of varying shapes, sizes and now even have characters. The backgrounds could now be a plethora of both stationary and scrolling atmospheric scenes - nice pictures of satellites and space stations, say, and both vertically scrolling planet surfaces and horizontally (and parallax) scrolling space stations is the sort of thing we're after here. And (perhaps most importantly) there could be a pretty animated introduction. A cartoony bloke jumping off into space, zapping a few aliens, would be good.

Sound is another thing that wouldn't say no to a slight updating. Obviously, the traditional "eeaaaaoooowww - explosion" explosion effect would have to stay, but there is plenty of room for improvisation. Possibly some digitised speech, and slightly more convincing crashes and bangs. And some digitised cow samples as well, for good measure.

But have you thought about the movement patterns of the aliens? Moving constantly left, then down, then left, then down and so on? Na, it just wouldn't be on, really. Far more exciting things could happen - aliens could fly away from the pack and swoop maniacally towards you, they could all constantly swirl around the screen or groups of them could swap and change position. And the individual aliens could expand, they could split into two. The possibilities are (theoretically) endless - but don't get carried away. That will probably do.

AND DON'T FORGET THE UFO
Remember that UFO which used to fly across the top of the screen? And when you shot it, you scored lots of points? Boring, eh? If I were you, I'd change the game so that every time one is shot down, a little Arkanoid-style capsule will drop down. Collect it within a few seconds and a random power-up will appear with such effects as, oooh I don't know, extra energy, double fire power, the more interesting vertical (and horizontal) laser, whirling fireball things, and explosions.

Oh, and you could have a simultaneous two player mode as well.
And don't forget to put in some end of level baddies.
These are the sort of improvements that could, and spookily have, been made over the original Invaders. And in the arcades, they certainly helped make Taito's Super Space Invaders a veritable corker. But is the Amiga conversion a corker too? No doubt at least one point during this review (probably about now come to think of it) you've thought "why doesn't he just get on with it" and have impatiently glanced down at the score in the rather ungenerous box at the bottom of the page. In this case you will already know the answer the proposed question. The Amiga version isn't very good, and falls down completely (and utterly) on one factor - speed.

Armed with a handful of 10 pees I ventured down to the local arcade around the corner (and along the road a bit) (and around another corner) to scout out the coin-op. I had a go and was knocked out mainly by its rapidity. Then I went back to the office and (once they let me back in again) settled down again in front of my trusty Amiga. The conversion looked emphatically sluggish in comparison, especially at the beginning of a wave when the screen looks like it is too congested to handle it. As for the aforementioned scrolling backgrounds, tragically jerky and rather hard on the eyes is the best description I can up with. You can't help but feel sorry (but still love) your Amiga for trying though.

Better Dead Than Alien is the only other straight Invaders clone I can think of on the Amiga, and to tell the truth, although the arcade game of Super Invaders was brilliant, the conversion isn't a patch on it. BDTA had more power-ups, a password feature (SSI allows you some choice of levels but nothing as effective at keeping your attention) and it was generally a lot more slickly programmed than Super Invaders.

Then again, there's the argument that the whole Space Invaders gameplay is simply too think to hold a full price game anymore. There are certainly people in this office who find the methodical left, right, fire experience rather similar to that of painting in a rather large wall - and equally interesting - especially at speeds like this. All in all then, it's not really worth the bother. But smile - we don't want to end this review on a bad note, now do we?


Super Space Invaders - the intro thingy. It's all fairly obvious what's happening...
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AN INTERVIEW WITH MR TOSHIKIRO NISHIKADO
If one thing's for sure, Super Space Invaders owes practically everything to its prequel, Space Invaders. Mr Toshihiro Nishikado (now age 47), the brain child behind the original seemed like the man to talk to, so we exclusively copied a bit out of a (dodgy translated) photocopied interview with him...
Super Space Invaders
Ah, Mr Nishihiro. How long did Invaders (the original coin-op) take to write? "It took about 10 months for me from planning to finishing the game. I named the game Space Monster but it was named Space Invader by request of sales section before production."
Erm, sorry, Mr N. It seems that's about all we've got space for.

COWS IN SPACE
Super Space Invaders
Every other time you polish off three waves of aliens, you get a bonus level. Here, you play for points by preventing a field of cows from being taken off into space by UFOs. The UFOs zoom about overhead, snatching cows in their tractor beams - your job is to shoot the UFO and not the cow - resulting in a digitised 'ouch' or 'thank you' depending on whether you succeed.

THE END OF LEVEL NASTIES
Super Space Invaders
The mother ship - a real mutha of a ship it is too, flying in a figure of eight. You have to shoot it when its armed are up away from the body.
Super Space Invaders
The split saucer - the protective pod (the bit with spikes on) comes off, leaving it vulnerable from below.
Super Space Invaders
Another mother ship - this one fires missiles at you, then switches tack and tries stars instead. (The bast).

Super Space Invaders logo CU Amiga Screenstar

It's taken a long time coming but, after almost 13 years, we have the sequel to one of the most popular coin-ops of all time. Taito's Super Space Invaders '91 did the arcade rounds earlier this year and proved that it was possible to take the old classic and update it for today's sophisticated gamesplayers.

The new game retains the addictive qualities of the original but enhances the gameplay, graphics and sound to produce a worthy sequel. The Amiga version is an exact replica of the coin-op in every respect, although a few 'extras' have been included to enhance the game further. For instance, there's an animated intro showing our hero boarding his dreadnought and speeding off to intercept the advancing alien space fleet.

As in the original, the player is in control of a small ship at the bottom of the screen which can be moved either to the left or right. Above are the alien nasties which slowly advance down the screen one row at a time. To stop their advance, the player must destroy all the aliens and prevent them reaching the bottom of the screen - the price of failure is a lost life.

The difference with the sequel, though, is that the aliens don't merely move from side-to-side but attack in Galaxian-like formations, split in two, or expand to three times there size once hit.

Armed initially with a boggy laser, it's possible to get extra weapons by shooting down a cigar-shaped space ship which periodically cruises along at the top of the screen. These extras include a fire flower which destroys most of the aliens on screen and a multiple-laser which fires concentrated vertical blasts of energy and is capable of taking out entire rows of aliens in one go.

After every three waves, there's either an end-of-level guardian to confront or a cattle mutilation screen(!). The latter involves shooting down a number of flying saucers as they attempt to steal a number of peacefully-grazing cows. If a cow is picked up by a saucer, a carefully-aimed shot will send the unfortunate bovine hurtling back down to earth and elicit a word of thanks. A bonus is given for however many are remaining.

In all there are 12 levels to complete, each made up of three waves and a bonus screen end-of-level guardian. Once you've completed that little lot, you can then have a go as the advanced level which includes more of the same but with much tougher guardians and more complex attack waves. Unfortunately, it isn't nearly hard enough and most players will have no trouble in completing the game.

I clocked it in less than an hour's play which makes me question its lastability. Still, it's a cracking conversion of a great game and a joy to play. Nostalgia freaks and shoot 'em up fans will lap it up.


IN THE BEGINNING

Super Space Invaders: Early picture of Toshihiro Nishikado At a time when the Brotherhood of Men and the Nolans were storming the pop charts and the New Avengers and Charlie's Angels were topping the TV ratings, the only coin-ops worth playing were Pong and Breakout. Hardly revolutionary, the machines prompted electronic giant, Taito, to enter the fray with the world's first shoot 'em up, Space Invaders.

Developed by Toshihiro Nishikado, now a very rich 47 year-old, the game proved an instant hit and was the catalyst for a whole generation of arcade machines. Originally to be called Space Monster, the game took 10 months to develop and was eventually finished in June, 1978.

When released, it was an immediate success, so much so that the production department at Taito could not keep up with demand. Even today, 13 years after its debut, the machine can be found in backstreet cafes and seedy arcades - a testament to the game's lasting appeal.