You can save your progress between stages, which is a huge relief when you’re getting low on lives and you know you won’t last much longer. It also fits the quick-session nature of the portable DS. Beating levels in arcade opens them up in stage mode, where you can play them individually for a high score. Ranking mode lets you play the arcade mode old school style, without save or retry options, and then lets you upload your scores to leaderboards when you finally bite the dust.
Extreme also has a strong multiplayer component, which allows you to compete one-on-one over wireless play, or on the Nintendo Wifi Connection—again, you can upload your scores. Extreme supports both multi-card and download play.
Visually, Extreme has a great art style. Taito wisely avoided the goofy presentation updates of other classic adaptations, and instead went for a retro flair. Each level is a psychedelic display of pixel art, using the old sprite shapes but deliberately enhancing them with vibrant colors and transform effects. The end result is a wonderful combination of arcade nostalgia and stylistic charm. The music and sound aren’t as creative and get a little repetitive, but I do like what Taito did with them—the music and FX are synchronized, so as you blast invaders, it accents the current tune playing. There’s even a small note counter on the top screen that keeps track of the music combos you make.
Space Invaders Extreme is overall a brief experience—the arcade mode only takes a couple hours to finish. It’s the challenging difficulty and deep combo system, however, that will keep you coming back, no matter how many times the game schools you (and trust me, it’ll be a lot). Extreme is the very definition of an arcade update done right, and as a fiendishly addictive portable game, it’s one of this year’s best DS titles. My only real complaint is that they didn’t include the original game for comparison’s sake, to show just how far Space Invaders has come. For $20, this is one of the best deals, hands down, on the shelves right now. Get this sleeper hit before it disappears.
Space Invaders Extreme is a supremely well done arcade update, and a meaty, addictive portable game in its own right. It’s an absolute steal at $20, and anyone who calls themselves a gamer needs it in their DS collection.
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