It may not have been the first arcade game to appear, but Tomohiro Nishikado’s Space Invaders was possibly the most influential of the late 70s video games to hit the arcade, spawning many sequels, spin-offs and inspiring future generations. This Invincible Collection pays homage to that series while also acting as a trip through the evolution of those early days of Video Games.
The fact that Space Invaders is so well known outside of gaming circles is testament to just how influential it is. Alongside Pong and Pacman it has become a pop culture icon and assured its place in history. As the first shooting game of all time and the first to feature waves of enemies, Space Invaders has become the basic template of many future games, even spawning its own sequels, some more impressive than others.
The Invincible Collection arrived in the Japanese eShop and stores last year and we’ve had over a year’s wait for the title to hit the Western markets, but in return we do get the full Special Edition that includes the 2 spin-offs and the excellent Space Invaders DX, so I feel this was worth the wait. In the pack we get Space Invaders , the original black and white 1978 game. Space Invaders in colour, Space Invaders Part II frim 1979, the two spin offs that use the same hardware as the original Space Invaders; Lunar Rescue and Space Cyclone, Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV, Super Space Invaders ’91, Space Invaders DX, Space Invaders Extreme and the multiplayer madness of Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE from 2018. That’s a lot of Space Invaders. For those who didn’t pick up the Forever collection, you’ll also get Arkanoid vs Space Invaders as a separate download which uses a side on screen so makes it almost impossible to play handheld but otherwise is a great addition to the pack.
This set in itself is almost a self contained study of videogame evolution, seeing the black and white simplicity of the original adapt to bring in colour, then better AI and movement, then challenges, patterns and musical elements plus graphical upgrades really does make it feel like you’re witnessing the gradual evolution of the technology and understanding of video games and yet it’s still surprising that the original 1978 Space Invaders feels so good to play, if a little unforgiving by today’s standards. Thankfully, the emulation is spot on here, so there’s no blame on the software for your failure when you die over and over again.
Each game does have a chunk of text detailing a brief history of that game and its origins on the title screen, but aside from that we sadly get little in the way of museum pieces. A few videos, interviews, flyers and advertising posters would have really added something special here. As a historically significant game franchise, Space Invaders does deserve more attention to the history as well as just presenting the games for people to play. Unfortunately, it’s not very often that I see a collection like this go out of their way to provide those extras, so this was expected.
As a slice of gaming history, and a solid set of games in their own right, Space Invaders Invincible Collection is well worth picking up. I do wish it had more historical content but aside from that this is a highly recommended package for fans of the genre.