Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Invaders'

Rating:4 User: Digital Prawn

As there are at least half a dozen speccy games called "Invaders", I'll just clarify that this review is of the 1982 release from "Artic Computing" for the ZX Spectrum 16K. Invaders is of course a port of the arcade game "Space Invaders". Space Invaders is a curious title. As the original arcade version hails from 1978, even 8-bit home computer versions from the early eighties can exceed the arcade version in certain departments. Most notably by the addition of multiple colours to the waves of aliens. "Invaders" does not dissapoint in this area. Coming out in the speccy's maiden year (before advanced techniques and styles were fully developed on the platform) it still manages to act as an impressive showcase of the machine's abilities.

The initial menu screens unmistakably betray the early heritage of this game - seeming almost BASIC like in appearance, but once the main game starts in glorious 100% machine code, there is no doubt that this is one of the better and downright playable Space Invaders clones. There are nine difficulty levels available but quite honestly, there's not that much difference between them. Perhaps merely three levels of difficulty would have been more appropriate here. There are also four variations of the game to choose from. In practice, the selected variation affects the difficulty perhaps even more than the actual difficulty setting. The variations include a top row of aliens requiring two hits to kill and also alien projectiles that can deflect sideways. Just don't rush into this game filled with an all-knowing over-confidence, thinking that because you may have mastered Invaders on another platform that you are going to walk over this one. For if you do, you may be in for something of a shock. This game is really difficult. Firstly, you have to develop tactics that get you through the levels quickly, before the invasion fleet lands. This is certainly more difficult here than in other well known space invaders clones. Secondly you have to master the art of finishing off the last couple of ships in each wave. Believe me, this particular game makes this a real difficult challenge at times. The speeds involved are shockingly fast.

To achieve the multicoloured alien waves and such smooth flicker free animation of them and the frighteningly fast moving projectiles is an absolute tour de force of early speccy programming. Particularly if you consider that it is all running in contended RAM of the 16K system. But more than this, "Invaders" remains an enjoyable, still difficult game today. It certainly provides a real challenge to even the most hardened "Space Invaders" veterans.