IGN Review of Space Invaders Extreme 2
Last year's Space Invaders Extreme is one of IGN's highest-rated Nintendo DS games and was a complete reinvention of the classic shooter that actually lived up to the "Extreme" in its name. A little over a year later we've already got a sequel -- and it's easy to see why it didn't take long. Save for a couple tweaks to the design this is the same game. It's still fun, but if you already own the original there may not be enough here to warrant another purchase.
Like its predecessor, Extreme 2 keeps the same basic mechanic from the original Space Invaders: players control a ship at the bottom of the screen and shoot endless waves of descending aliens. But this isn't the slow, plodding game of 1978. Extreme 2 takes the Invaders formula and runs with it, making for a much faster paced and visually exciting game. All sound effects are tied to the lively electronic tunes, meaning every alien you shoot down adds melodic and rhythmic material to the soundtrack. Psychedelic neon visuals flash behind the action to create a neo-1980s music video. Players can choose their own branching path through the many stages (creating replay value as you'll have to play many times to see all stages) and there are boss fights along the way. You've got Score Attack and Time Attack modes, online leaderboards, and online head-to-head battles. There's quite a lot of content here -- it's just not new content.
You have power-ups at your disposal, earned by shooting down four same-colored invaders in a row. Each color is tied to a different weapon such as a laser or bomb. This adds a welcome layer of strategy to the game as you have to be careful where you shoot if you want to attain a particular weapon.
If someone just handed you a DS with Extreme 2 already running, you may very well assume it's the original game. The changes added to the sequel are barely noticeable, even to those of us that spent a lot of time with Space Invaders Extreme. From time to time you'll encounter bonus rounds that previously would whisk you away to another stage. But now these rounds unfold on the DS' top screen while you continue the current stage below. Whereas the first game was released on both the DS and PSP, the DS-exclusivity of this sequel may be the reason for this dual screen design change. These bonus challenges require you to shoot down more pesky aliens on the top screen, and while some of stray bullets below will naturally hit them, cleaning up the last remaining few before time runs out can be tricky. It makes for an even more frantic experience this time around.
There is also a new "bingo" system that displays nine squares on the top screen, each showing two colors. The squares are also filled in by shooting groups of same-colored invaders, and making a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of squares will initiate a special bonus round which, if completed, will make all onscreen aliens worth mega points. This new mechanic flirts with being overwhelming to players, but we were warned that this would be an extreme experience.
Space Invaders Extreme 2 again supports the spinner controller, which is the ideal way to play the game. Unfortunately, the controller, only available from import shops, is harder to find these days than when the original game was released last year.
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