Over 30 years ago, Space Invaders was released to arcades with large commercial success. So much so that it actually caused a yen shortage in Japan. Since then, every console has had some type of Space Invaders game, whether it was a remake, port, reimagining or sequel. Infinity Gene is the latest Space Invaders game, a nice extension/sequel of Extreme 1 and 2, and is a great way to newly experience this 30+ year old game.
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene relies heavily on a creative approach to this time tested genre. Using a new sense of pacing, the game actually starts in typical Space Invaders fashion; you move left and right from the bottom of the screen and shoot upwards towards a slowly lowering alien force. But in a short amount of time, the player will gain the ability to move anywhere on the screen, have access to new weaponry (like a wave beam or homing missile), and seek potential for a score multiplier. Strangely enough, this game has a slight RPG aspect to it.
As progress is made evolutions will be unlocked. This means that with enough play time, you can unlock a new gun, new stages, or new musical tracks. While unlocking a new tune to enjoy at your leisure via the options menu is nowhere near as cool as earning a new type of cannon, it fits with the game’s overall artistic presentation.
Besides a unique and throwback-style musical score, the game evolves from the typical white sprites on a black background to trippy psychedelic patterns and shapes. Because each stage is basically a wacked-out acid trip, the player can easily expect fast-paced and unpredictable stage design. Even if you dominated the leaderboards on the original version or with Space Invaders Extreme, do not be surprised if you die your fair share of times in Infinity Gene. The challenge is definitely high in this game but never truly feels cheap thanks to an ability that allows the player to pass through bullets – that is if you are skilled enough to use it.
Hand eye coordination and quick reflexes will surely earn you a higher spot on the game’s leaderboards, but each stage could benefit from a bit of memorization. On occasion, an enemy ship can spawn right on top of your ship, but that is the risk you take if you decide to fly all over the screen. This again adds to the challenge of the game. But if you spend enough time and care with each stage, you will unlock the ability to add more lives to your stock before you see the continue screen.
The game’s visual presentation is a nod to the original version, pixel art and all, but the ever changing backgrounds set the game in the modern gaming era. The only downside to the unique art style is the occasional “hey, is that in the background or is that actually going to kill me” question. Just like the original game, your ship and the enemy invaders are 2D but here in Infinity Gene, all the backgrounds twist and turn into 3D. While Space Invaders Extreme had a slight resemblance to Meteos, I say that Infinity Gene seems to have gotten some inspiration from the cult hit, Rez.
Besides the Normal mode, which is composed of dozens of stages, there is the super difficult challenge mode as well as a mode that reads the music on your 360’s harddrive – enemies actually appear and react to each unique song that is played with your custom playlist. This mode is definitely a different approach but will probably be the least played, unfortunately. However, the biggest mode that is surprisingly absent from this title is a 2-player co-op mode. The original Space Invaders was one of the first co-op experiences in gaming; it is a shame that there is no multiplayer mode whatsoever in this title.
For 800 MS Points ($10), you are going to get yourself a decent old-school shooter with a new coat of paint shooter. If you are a fan of the series, or a youngun looking for a history lesson, at least check out the demo version. Infinity Gene is not what you would expect, but it is solid way to introduce new gameplay elements to one of gaming’s oldest franchises. I still had more fun with the Extreme series but Infinity Gene deserves some credit for putting a new spin on a classic shooter.
Better Than: a simple port of the original
Also Try: Meteos Wars
Wait For It: a 4-player co-op Space Invaders
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