Taito is doing its best to ensure that one of the most iconic video games is remembered by modern players. Space Invaders Invincible Collection is the full package of their latest compilation, finally arriving overseas after being previously available only in Japan. You may remember an abridged version of this release, Space Invaders Forever, a decidedly average compilation which this author reviewed back in 2020.
Now that the full title is available to a worldwide audience, players everywhere can enjoy eleven Space Invaders titles in one handy package, including some fantastic twists on the classic formula. This is a great option for fans of the series or those who want to turn their Switch into an arcade workhorse.
Space Invaders Invincible Collection is available now on Nintendo Switch for your regional pricing.
STORY – INVASION THROUGH THE DECADES
I’m not even going to try to pretend that there’s any amount of lore to be found in Space Invaders Invincible Collection, but the games that were chosen for this compilation are an interesting group of titles. Included with each is a small blurb of information about the original release, which is neat to see from a historical perspective.
Space Invaders, the original 1978 arcade release, is the first title in the game. There were actually four different versions of the game available in arcades in 1978, as Taito and Midway both released upright and table-top cabinets. The copy of the game included in the Invincible Collection is the most widely recognized. The final color version is also present on this compilation and shows its technological prowess by supporting five-digit scores, as opposed to the original’s four-digits.
Space Invaders Part II, the favorite of creator Tomohiro Nishikado, adds new enemy behavior such as calling reinforcements or splitting in two. Not satisfied with merely spawning the video game industry as we know it, this was also the title that introduced leaderboards, allowing players to save their hi-scores (a first for Japanese arcade games).
Beyond the original two Space Invaders, Taito has also packaged in two versions of Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV, the first big jump in the series’ presentation. Brand new graphics, changing backgrounds, and player ships, Zone Selection, Special Attacks, cow abduction! This 1990 title kept the series fresh for a new decade and continues to be a great spin on the original formula. An alternate version, Super Space Invaders ’91, is also available, however, this version doesn’t allow for Zone Selection.
Space Invaders DX, which finally brought multiplayer to the series, is an updated version of the original. It also includes a “Parody” mode, which uses sprites from other Taito properties, such as Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, The NewZealand Story, and Darius.
One of the best modern Invaders titles, Space Invaders Extreme, makes another appearance. Specifically, this is the 40th-anniversary edition previously released on Steam. The gameplay is matched to interactive music, increasing the frenetic pace of the gameplay while also providing players with some great sounds.
To round out the package, the co-op Space Invaders GIGAMAX 4 SE allows four players to play simultaneously on a massive screen. Taking down bosses with three friends makes for more chaos and faster fun. It might not be for everyone, especially those who aren’t interested in playing multiplayer, but it’s a nice inclusion all the same.
Two additional titles, Lunar Rescue and Space Cyclone help showcase the potential of the Space Invaders chipsets. Cyclone is similar enough but includes different enemies, asteroids, and powerups not typically found in Taito’s mainstay franchise. It has never before been available on a home console, and arcade cabinets are exceptionally rare. Lunar Rescue, on the other hand, has players landing and then escaping from the Moon, providing an additional element new to the genre: traversal. Avoiding enemy ships is the key to survival and getting back to your home ship, and it’s a standout inclusion to this collection.
As a bonus, players will also be able to download the separate game, Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders. Despite the serious hardware incompatibilities that plague this release on Switch (it was originally a mobile title), I stand by my previous comments: it’s a fantastic remix on two classic franchises. A real shame that it’s not optimized for the platform, though.
GAMEPLAY – SO MUCH TO DO
The beauty of this compilation is the amount of variety to be found that you might not expect. Just among the Invaders titles, you’ll find a similar spread of gameplay but a profound difference in the layers of power-ups. Chief among these titles is going to be GIGAMAX, as that provides the largest gameplay change with same-screen co-op, but the changes made to Majestic Twelve are the most enjoyable.
It’s great to see how the series has evolved through the years, even if it’s not as expansive as we’ve seen in the Mega Man Legacy Collection series from Digital Eclipse. There’s a little blurb about each title, but it amounts to merely a paragraph each about the release of the games. Further inclusion of some of the ephemera surrounding the releases, like advertisements or photos of the cabinets would have been really great pieces of history to include in such a large release.
Each title has gameplay enhancements that help to navigate the aged mechanics that plague older arcade games. Being able to load in multiple credits at a time or start the round with more lives helps to lengthen the time you get to spend within the game experience, and is always a welcome addition in compilations such as this.
A great detail that certainly helps reinvigorate the arcade experience is the ability to play any of the titles in portrait mode, which would work perfectly with peripherals such as the Flip Grip. It certainly isn’t ideal when playing on a Switch Lite, but if utilized with the handheld mode of the upcoming OLED model, these older titles will look amazing.
The compilation shell overlay is easy to use, even if it is a bit chunky-looking. The text is big and bold, in distinct contrast from the tiny arcade screens of the games themselves. Regardless of the appearance, what’s important is the ability to use save states (always a welcome sight) and difficulty adjustments.
GRAPHICS – RETRO REPRESENTATION
To say that this is a nice-looking package would be an understatement. Each title is beautifully represented, and when played in landscape orientation, backed by some (mostly) great background art. There are even scanline options, if that’s your thing, although I couldn’t find a way to turn on a faux-smokey bar atmosphere from 1983.
There’s a pretty large variety of graphics to be found across the compilation, and each is a different fit, so it’s hard to say that there’s any sort of improvement or level of success in graphical representation. As evidenced by 40 years of cultural impact, some players might prefer the simple graphics of the original game, while others might find that Super Space Invaders ’91 is more to their taste.
The memorable music and sound effects that have been a part of the franchise since the beginning still hold up and sound great on the Nintendo Switch. Especially memorable is the interactive soundtrack of Space Invaders Extreme, which was created by the in-house Taito band, ZUNTATA.
That’s the best thing about this collection: any fan of Space Invaders is bound to find something that they adore. For a franchise that helped start the game industry and directly influenced countless legendary titles, it’s exciting to see both the longevity of the brand and the perpetual care that Taito is granting it. 40 years on, one of the original video games is still a blast to play, and there really isn’t any better way to do it.
Space Invaders Invincible Collection was reviewed on Nintendo Switch. A key was provided by PR Hound.