Review: Space Invaders (Atari 5200)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we shoot our way through another port of the classic game Space Invaders. This time, we check out the Atari 5200 version of this game. Does this game shoot it’s way into being a great addition to this series? We find out.

This particular port was released in 1982 which was merely two years after the Atari 2600 version. With a later release date and newer hardware to run on, this game is capable of delivering a better quality of experience.

There is some notable improvements. For one, the aliens that gradually make their way toward you are better animated (survive to wave 3 and you’ll see what I mean. If you’re hardcore, survive to wave 7 long enough to see the aliens morph over time too).

Another interesting thing is the fact that the aliens first make their way onto the screen via the left hand side. This gives the player an interesting new method to form strategies when it comes to defeating them. While the gradual speed increase as you shoot the aliens is roughly the same as the Atari 2600 version, the interesting part is that if you defeat a column of aliens, the aliens have further to travel to get to the other side of the screen. In fact, this aspect of the game is probably the only reason I survived past the second wave. If I kept trying to shoot them by the row, I was almost certain to burn through all my lives just to keep up with the downward movement of the aliens. It wasn’t until I started shooting them on a column basis that I found the levels far more survivable. If you make it to the 7th wave, the aliens start as close as possible to the bottom of the screen without removing what remains of the three blockades (which is why that level is so difficult).

The audio was definitely interesting to judge. There really isn’t anything in the way of music, however, the sound effects have improved over the previous iteration. So I’ll give some props for that.

The graphics, however, was really where this version shined over the previous release. Each row of aliens now have their own colors. The three blockades are better crafted and are multicolored. The turret you control looks a little bit more like a turret. In the 7th wave, the aliens are constantly changing color and morphing into different objects as they make their descent towards you. Yes, there is still that bleak black background, but I think that really is my only sticking point with this game when it comes to graphics. Overall, the graphics were nicely done.

Overall, this game certainly shares that addicting nature that helped the Atari 2600 be enjoyable. There are major improvements with the mechanics of the game as well as graphics. This game is certainly another one of the older games worth checking out even if this game doesn’t take too long to play. Enjoyable all around.


Furthest point in game: Wave 7.

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 76%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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