With retreading classic games being all the rage nowadays, it’s easy to be apathetic about the news of rereleases. Space Invaders, an indisputable hall-of-fame level arcade shooter, was introduced to the iPhone earlier this year to mixed reviews. Taito’s revisited the franchise with Space Invaders Infinity Gene, an effort that we found completely unexpected and extraordinary on many different levels.
Move down! Increase speed! Reverse direction!
First off, this isn’t your daddy’s Space Invaders. Sure, it shares some similarities (e.g. piloting a small ship, shooting enemy waves, etc.) from the iconic game that helped popularize arcade shooters. In the original game, the primary objective was to scroll left and right, firing off laser cannons to take down off a variety of two-stepping aliens for points. In Infinity Gene, things have evolved considerably.
Over the course of three levels covering over 20+ sub-stages, new mechanics and game play conventions are introduced at a smooth pace. Instead of restrictive one-axis movement, you can move your ship with full freedom after a few stages. Dragging your finger around the screen dictates your movement and firing weapons is automatically handled for you. Perfect instantaneous feedback makes getting around as smooth as butter.
Shooting enemies while avoiding structural hazards heightens the intensity level. In the epic boss battles efficiently placed throughout the game, you’ll further appreciate the new on-rails structure. The one drawback here is that you’ll die some cheap deaths because you can’t see some areas blocked by your thumb, but luckily the frustration level remains low due to the surplus of lives and free retries.
Generate your own levels from your iTunes library.
In terms of weapons, Infinity Gene has a few cool surprises you’ll discover. The default arms option is a dual laser known as the ‘Rapid Shot,’ but as you progress through the game, new options become available that really play on the repeatedly emphasized evolution theme. We don’t want to spoil the fun, but rest assured that there are some great choices that will appeal to different play styles. Regardless of your weapon choice, the game’s all about chaining kills together to build your total score. In the latter levels, it gets really crazy; at one point, we happened to run up a sequence of 556 straight hits.
As solid as the level structure and shooting action is, the sexiest features of Infinity Gene are its visuals and pulse-pounding soundtrack. It’s hard to describe the original art direction found here, but it’s most reminiscent of the style seen in the movie TRON. You’ll see lots of symmetrical lines, box grids, and eye-popping gradients with tons of sporadic flashes. With the appropriate techno music blaring in the background, it’s like you’re firing away in the middle of a virtual rave. And after each level, the game morphs from the style of the original game into something completely new… something evolved. For those with performance concerns, our testing indicates that Infinity Gene performs smoothly on both the iPhone 3G and 3GS.
We always appreciate it when a developer goes above and beyond the call of duty. Space Invaders Infinity Gene more than validates its $4.99 price point. New content (e.g. new levels, new weapons) and options (e.g. difficulty levels, graphics) open up virtually every time you complete a sub-stage. In addition, Infinity Gene has a killer auxiliary mode that creates a dynamic level based on a music selection from your iPod library. In testing around a dozen songs, the layout and flow of the levels were always different, generating an experience completely in sync with the music we selected.
As you can tell, we highly recommend Space Invaders Infinity Gene. This is a gorgeous shooter that has a variety of surprises, coupled with replay value that most shooters can’t touch. Buy it.