Review: Space Invaders (SNES)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out a SNES re-interpretation of the classic top down shooter, Space Invaders. We find out if this is version is worth playing or not.

The SNES version of space Invaders was released in 1994 and would continue much of what made the original Space Invaders popular in the first place. We’ve already reviewed the Atari 5200 and Atari 2600 versions, so we thought it would be interesting to see what sorts of improvements were made given that the SNES is a much newer console system.

The major difference between the Atari versions and the SNES version is the fact that there are substantially more aliens to shoot down in this version. Much like the screen space in the Atari versions, the aliens pretty much fill the screen at the top. The difference with the SNES is that more pixels can be crammed into a single screen. Not only are you smaller, but so are the aliens. This makes the game somewhat different in the fact that the rocks protecting you from the aliens are much more likely to get almost completely destroyed by the time you get to the end of a round.

Another major difference is that players can choose how the game looks. There’s a full graphical mode where playable objects are semi transparent and there is a full background image behind all of the action. There’s a full color version where aliens (and you) are colored, but the background is removed. In this mode, if you die, everything briefly changes red. There’s a colored version with cellophane which is essentially everything being semi transparent and a rainbow stretching across the screen. This has the effect of the colors showing through mainly the aliens. Finally, there is a black and white mode where everything is, well, black and white.

When players begin, they have to insert coins before play begins. This is done with the L and R buttons. The number of coins you insert dictate the number of retries you have before you have to insert more coins. If you lose all of your lives, you have to go back to the beginning anyway. Why this feature is even in there beyond trying to somehow emulate the arcade environment is quite puzzling.

As you progress through the level by shooting the aliens, the aliens gradually move faster just like the older versions. Like the older versions, if you kill off a whole column on the furthest left or right, the aliens have to travel further across the screen before moving down one row. This is definitely a survival strategy worth using if you plan on seeing how far you can go in this game as, eventually, you’ll have to employ more shot evasion tactics as the random shots gradually become more direct and frequent enough to be almost like rain.

The only other notable difference in this game is the fact that there is a two player mode. In this mode, you pit yourself against another human player and try and take down a more manageable set of aliens. Most aliens are killed in the same way as one player mode. The difference is the fact that there are a few colored aliens. Killing them can net a wide range of effects between elimination of a whole row of aliens to the dropping down of aliens by a row on your opponents side to dropping the aliens down on your own side. The only other twist is the fact that shooting the UFO will swap the alien playing field. If you are behind, shoot the UFO if you can and your opponent will have to deal with all of the problems you accumulated on your end. Unfortunately, if you are way ahead and you accidentally hit the UFO, then you swap the playing fields anyway. This can set you way back in an otherwise one-sided battle.

Graphically, I look at this game and ask, “Couldn’t the developers have done a better job to spice this game up?” There’s the single background at best. Heck, the colored mode offers the best eye candy because at least everything flashes that dramatic red every time you die. Maybe the developers could have changed the background to something different every time a player advances to the next level. In addition, every time the aliens move down a row, the game sometimes glitches out. This is especially so when there are almost a full contingent of aliens. It’s like half of the aliens moves down, then the other half moves down because the graphics can’t keep up with the game. I would almost go so far as to say the Atari 5200 version could compete against this because there are advantage that system has over this. I will say that the aliens zapping typos in the demo screen was a nice little Easter Egg though. The damage on the rocks was a minor graphical improvement.

The audio was also a disappointment. There was some music thrown in at the beginning, but no music could be heard as I played this. Beyond that, there’s barely any improvements made in terms of sound over the Atari 5200 version. The SNES is far more capable of giving this game a better audio presentation, yet this was seemingly skipped over in the development process. I don’t know if it was to keep the nostalgia effect, but I would have preferred a little more out of this game.

Overall, I felt that this game was a major letdown. The SNES has the capability of delivering a far better game than what the end product turned out to be as far as single player mode is concerned. With the useless feature of a coin system, the only positive thing I have to say about this is the fact there was the employment of a customizable look for the user. That’s pretty much it. You can change the color pallet of this game in limited ways. Unless you want to play a version with many more aliens staring you down, I don’t think this game has much to offer that wasn’t already seen before. Two player mode is where almost all of the innovation went into. you can net some interesting excitement in this mode, but it can be somewhat unpredictable. Stick to older versions, this one was a missed opportunity in one player mode. The only thing this game has to offer that is of any value is two player mode and it’s the only somewhat entertaining element in this game.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Made it to level 3.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 4/10
Audio: 1/5

Overall rating: 48%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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