Thursday 30 July 2015

Space Invaders: Virtual Collection (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Released: 1995

Space Invaders: Virtual Collection is a Japan-only release and features both the original game (1978) as well as Part II (1979).

They can be played in 2D or 3D modes and each sees you pitted against endless waves of invaders. Armed with a laser cannon you must shoot them all while using four destructible bunkers for cover against their fire. The more invaders you shoot the faster the remaining ones become so you'll need some quick reflexes to avoid losing your three lives. The 2D versions are incredibly faithful to the Arcade originals and feature similar sound effects and animation. They play well and have some enjoyable fast-paced action. The 3D versions tilt the camera down to create depth and it looks amazing! The backgrounds add atmosphere and I love the stereo audio which plays depending on which side of the screen your ship is located. Once again the gameplay is addictive and controls perfectly. However, after a few minutes you begin to realise that they're exactly the same as the 2D versions and the only difference is the stereoscopic effect. For a 1995 re-release it's puzzling why the developers chose to port over these two titles and not Super Space Invaders '91 (Arcades) with its power-ups and enhanced gameplay mechanics. There's not enough variety between Parts 1 and 2 and the only real additions in the latter are that there's now a flashing spaceship that can only be hit when visible, some spaceships can drop reinforcements and certain invaders can split into two. The final mode is Challenge which is 3D only and consists of Time Attack and Score Attack. Time Attack is a single wave that needs clearing as quickly as possible with only one life. Score Attack gives you three lives and you need to complete the wave with as many points as you can. These are decent but nothing too different from everything else already on offer.

With Space Invaders: Virtual Collection it feels as if Taito really missed a trick to make this one of the stand-out games in the VB library. If you're looking for a simple version of the franchise this one is ideal but others hoping for some innovation and depth will likely be disappointed.

Random trivia: This is amongst the rarest titles on the Virtual Boy and according to Racket Boy it currently goes for around $510.

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