I'll be honest, I was never a big fan of Space Invaders as a kid. The game was too simple, and at the same time too hard due to the limitations of the technology of the late seventies. By the mid-80's, Space Invaders had the unlucky situation of being stuck next to the much superior Galaga in most American arcades, meaning that I tended to drift over to the much more exciting and fairly-paced offspring of the famous shooter.
And yet, Space Invaders Extreme rules. It fucking rules hard.
Now, what does Space Invaders Extreme do that makes it so good? First off, Taito decided to base the game play off the combinations of Invaders you shoot, and the rewards that it reaps. Invaders each have a different color, and each have a unique power-up. Shoot four of one color in a row, your little ship is supplied with a new power-up to waste rows of little marching pixels.
There's also bonus levels! Hit the right group of Invaders, or hit the right saucer, and get warped to a multitude of different types of bonus levels. After successfully completing the bonus level, your ship is usually rewarded with an awesome power up to wipe out as many Invaders as possible, racking up the score as you go along.
Different Invaders also have different attack patterns. Some do the usual back and forth motion, but then there's always a few in there that have little shields, or kamikaze Invaders that blow themselves up, or glowing Invaders that, when hit, set off a chain reaction that blows multiple Invaders up. I haven't even gotten to the Saucers that shoot lasers, or the ridiculous giant built-from-pixels bosses.
Everything you do in this game adds more to your score, the faster you complete a level, the way the player implements his power ups, numbers of enemies you kill, how many of the pesky flying saucers you take out, it's all here.
Also, the aesthetics of this game are great. Taito took a cue from recent experimental shooters like Rez and Everyday Shooter, and have made a thirty year old game a buffet for the eyes and ears. The multi-colored, morphing backgrounds only add to the psychedelic experience, not detracting from the core game play, and have filled the game with fantastic explosion, light, and laser effects. The game also supports some fantastic club-inspired beats, put together by Taito's Zuntata music group. Much like Everyday Shooter, the pings and pooms of shots fired and exploding aliens are integrated into the level music, creating a seamless cacophony of sound.
Taito has miraculously taken a game I always respected, but never truly liked, and made a completely modern, completely awesome shooter out of it. It's only 20 bucks, so it won't set you back that much, and it's most definitely worth it. This won't be leaving my DS anytime soon. Now I have to try out multiplayer on this!