Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Space Invaders

Huzzah! Alongside the lofty likes of Tetris, Asteroids and such, this is retro gaming. Space Invaders, which surfaced way, way back in the cloying sands of time (1978), was enjoyed/sprayed by errant beer-droplets in drinking establishments/sworn at upon game over screen by so many of us. Those endearing, iconic and harshly-angular ‘invader’ designs -screw you, Thing-That-Looks-a-Little-Like-an-Octopus, That Other Thing and… That Other Other Thing! Screw you always!- are now an intrinsic part of popular culture. But why? WHY?

As the developer himself was (not) heard to proclaim, “A plot? An actual goddamn reason for shooting the shit out of E.T the Extraterrestrial’s extended family? Who has time for that? Nuts to it.” Essentially, then, we have nary an inkling as to who’s invading/why they’re invading. A later iteration featured a minigame in which a elderly criminal psychologist with a shit-tacular beard rambles for six hours about the roots of their invasion-centric tendencies, but it was not particularly well-received. Or, y’know, real.

Space Invaders Screenshot 2

Hail, squid thing! This is actually a shot of an iPad case, which probably says it all.

Suffice it to say, then, that a tiny space-dude in a spaceship in actual space wants to photograph the freakish, lumpen denizens of the darker than the dank depths of the devil’s ass region of the cosmos, presumably to print the images on the front of t-shirts for hipster tossers that weren’t even a figment of their father’s erection when the game was originally released. One of said aliens was sitting on the toilet at the time, didn’t appreciate the social etiquette faux pas of the dude bursting into his stall with a camera, and incited his brothers to violence.

That’s totally how it went down. Ask anyone.

But let’s go easy with the piss-takery, because that was the nature of the early, chunky arcade cabinet games. Copious beeps, bleeps and angry pixel-things to shoot with lazers, as a score counter in the corner grows even higher than most of us could count to? Yes. Befuddling, multifaceted plotting reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code? No. Tom Hanks and his hilariously shit hairpiece are not welcome here.

The gameplay of Space Invaders defines ‘classic.’ Those odd giant spaceturd-like mounds stationed above your craft to repel fire? The awkward shuffling motion of the invaders descending the screen? It’s about as graceful as a one-legged, ballet dancing elephant, but we love/d it. That bonus red alien that cruised across the top of the screen, as you exhorted your craft to get it, y’massive bastard, get it? It was like a tiny, blurred, relentlessly addictive War of the Worlds that looked like shit.

Space Invaders Screenshot

Space Invaders looks like THIS now? It's enough to make you shit yourself. The colors, the colors!

In its 35 years of life, Space Invaders has undergone many ill-advised remakes, re-releases, revisions and several other types of re. The Wii’s Space Invaders Get Even saw you playing as the invading aliens, flailing your Wiimote to send your attack forces to destroy Earth fortifications and army forces. It wasn’t -get this!- actually all that half-assed, but was too great a departure to keep any of that nostalgic spirit alive. For the thirtieth anniversary of the original’s release, Space Invaders Extreme was developed. ‘Extreme’ apparently entails a couple of new modes of play and a psychedelic, seizure-tastic background color scheme. (We had visions of another arcade cabinet which propelled stale cat urine into your face if you failed to beat the previous high score. That, it’s safe to say, would have been rather more extreme.)

In summation, then, for the tiny ballistic missile full of nostalgia straight to the happy place that we all desire so, it’s probably best to stick with the original:

Header image source: sporty-365

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