Space Invaders Extreme 2
Last year’s Space Invaders Extreme surprised a lot of people with its depth, challenge, and inventive gameplay. This time around, Taito doesn’t screw with the formula, so the mechanics remain relatively identical. Players still shoot waves of invaders, match colors to earn the same four power-ups (bomb, laser, multishot, and shield), trigger midlevel minigames or “rounds,” blast the hell out of enemies in the fever bonus segments, take on giant tricky bosses, and progress through a branching five level sequence that allows them to choose harder or easier stages along the way.
The biggest new feature is the 3x3 bingo grid on the top screen. If you shoot certain color combinations of enemies and successfully complete rounds it will fill in a square on the grid. Once you line up three in a row (or more), it triggers super fever mode, resulting in absurd point bonuses. The average Joe really doesn’t have to worry about bingo, but hardcore players must master this system to hit the top of the online leaderboards. My favorite tweak is the new round system that incorporates these minigames smoothly into the main game without any pesky breaks. The round now takes place on the top screen, while the standard invaders still come at you on the bottom screen.
Casual players also have an easy difficulty option that grants infinite lives, but forces them to take the weakest route through the branching stage tree. Those more interested in speed runs than racking up points can compete in the new time attack mode.
Two-player versus mode is as versatile as it gets on DS: single card local, multi-card, or online. This too is almost identical to the first game, where the better you do on your screen sends more enemies to your rival’s screen. Slight updates include adjustable AI difficulty if you’re practicing against the computer and the ability to send a miniboss UFO to your opponent.
Overall, Space Invaders Extreme 2 offers more fun shooter action. If you liked the first one, go grab this $20 bargain. It’s just too bad that PSP and Xbox Live Arcade fans of the series are left in the lurch for the time being. We’ll keep you posted if other platforms are announced.