TGS 07: Space Invaders Extreme Hands-on

If Rock Band was E3's most talked-about game, Metal Gear Solid 4 did the same for TGS. Following close behind in second place was Taito's Space Invaders Extreme, a re-imagining of the original arcade classic for the Nintendo DS.

What makes Space Invaders Extreme so special is just how over-the-top it is--and how well it works despite the excessive glitz. Anchoring the game are the original sprite-based enemies, which do their same old dance of death, row by row. Until, of course, they are all vaporized by the solid beam weapon blasting forth from my innocent, pixelated ship. Didn't expect that, did you, sprite-aliens? Welcome to Earf.

No, Space Invaders Extreme is anything but expected, much to the invaders' misfortune. You'll blow away the poor buggers with splash-bombs, quad-shots, and all manner of high-powered defensive weaponry. These weapons each sound out random musical notes when fired, all within the key of the particular music track, allowing you to lay down a funky beat during your defense.

Occasionally you'll earn enough points for a bonus round, which mixes up the gameplay by sending enemies streaming down the screen, requiring the player to take out a set number of the foes. After these are defeated, you'll be seamlessly kicked back to the normal gameplay mode. The action never lets up, lending it a feel of a game like Geometry Wars.

Extreme utilizes both screens of the DS for boss fights--the first of which included a giant invader surrounded by smaller henchmen--giving the enemies twice the real estate in their attempts to dodge your attacks. At first it was difficult trying to shoot an enemy at the top of the second screen from your ship on the bottom of the first, but after some practice it was old hat.

It sounds absurd in its implausibility, but for pure arcade fun, Space Invaders Extreme is looking like a fresh take on the original concept. While no US release has been announced, it seems inevitable. The game will make its way to Japanese stores early next year, so keep your eyes out for news of a US release in the meantime.