Space Invaders (スペースインベーダー Supēsu Inbēdā), developed and published by Taito and was released in June 1978. It’s a fixed shooter set in space, the object of the game is to shoot down an army of aliens, with each row having different aliens. There are 4 bunkers that can temporarily protect you until the aliens have shot through them. There is also a “Mystery Ship”, a flying saucer that flies on top of the screen, shoot it for bonus points. The more aliens you shoot, the faster they move towards you, if they get to the bottom, the game is over, but if you manage to shoot them all, the game starts all over again but with tougher waves of aliens each time.
The game was created by Tomohiro Nishikado after being inspired by a mechanical arcade game Space Monsters released in Taito in 1972, Breakout by Atari and, in true Japanese logic, was based on a dream about Japanese school children waiting for Santa Claus only to be attacked by aliens…since Warner Bros is making a Space Invaders movie, they could take note of this plot. The game was designed in a year, Nishikado aimed to make a shooting game with complex graphics…for 1978.
Did you know? Early enemy designs included tanks, combat planes, and battleships, but Nishikado didn’t like the way the enemies moved, there were going to be humans to shoot but he found it immoral, but thanks to Star Wars, he decided to use a space theme. The aliens were inspired by the 1953 movie adaptation of The War of the Worlds, mostly the octopus-like aliens, whilst the other aliens were based off squids and crabs.
Now what do I think of the game, do I like it despite being an old game from the 70’s? Well, this game not only hold up well, it’s aged beautifully, this game is one of the best games ever made simply through the fact that it can be played by anyone of any age, it’s a simple pick up and play game, the graphics whilst simplistic is tidy and timeless, the music might be a four-note loop but for what the game is, it can be tense, especially as the aliens get closer to you. Even better, when I played this game, it was an immersive experience; you need to quickly strategize your next move and it’s quite challenging if you don’t. Space Invaders is a perfect shooting game, well respected by all gamers and well respected by people who find this true art.
It’s legacy? How about the fact that this game by 1982 grossed over $2 billion and Taito made profits of over $500 million, hmm, sounds like today’s gaming profits. The console releases of the game were immensely popular, despite some more clones of the game being released. It ended the video game crash of 1977 all on its own, got Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear Solid series into video games thanks to Space Invaders and is still regarded as a much beloved pop culture icon, right up there with Pac-Man and Mario.
And somehow there was a UK bill to get the game banned, drafted by a Labour MP…but a conservative defended the game because one MP actually liked the game. Whilst the bill never surpassed, it’s odd for me seeing how much I dislike the Conservatives only for one of them to defend it, but this is one MP out of the other greedy bunch…err, I mean video games.
And what do I think of a Space Invaders movie? Well it’s about the army shooting aliens, you can do anything with it, and so I don’t mind it as long as it’s entertaining. It will probably work better than a Tetris movie.