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Joystiq presents

Bury the Shovelware: Space Invaders Revolution vs Space Invaders Extreme

For this edition of Bury the Shovelware, we're talking Space Invaders. We'll be examining the recently released and critically acclaimed Space Invaders Extreme against 2005's suspected shovelware Space Invaders Revolution.


Space Invaders is a staple of the industry. Some incorrectly identify it as the first video game. Though this is incorrect, its significance to gaming as a whole just might make it the most important game of all-time. Released in 1978, the title was groundbreaking in that it changed the public's perception of gaming from being an interesting obscurity to a major form of entertainment. Check your local Wikipedia for more information.

Like many classics, the game has been re-packaged and re-released countless times. In its four years of life, two separate versions of the game have been released for the DS. Both versions were developed by industry veteran Taito, creator of the original ground-breaking title. But while Space Invaders Extreme was published by heavyweight Square Enix, Space Invaders Revolution was published by Rising Star Games. Though virtually unknown by comparison, the publisher has been given access to a surprising number of classic franchises, including Bomberman, Dungeon Explorer, Bubble Bobble, and New Zealand Story.

The Critics Said

The gap in the scores between the two versions is roughly equal to the distance between Earth and the Marcab Confederacy. Extreme has an Metacritic average score of 85 / 100, whereas Revolution falls around a 49. Generally, most critics found that Revolution was a cheap attempt to cash in on an old franchise (your shovelware-ometer should be buzzing!) while Extreme was praised for its new gameplay additions and presentation.

Rap Sheet

For the record, we'll be referring to Revolution.
  • Played Space Invaders before? Then there's no reason to play this version. Seriously. The "New Age" mode is not much more than taking the old Space Invaders, switching around a few alien colors, and slapping a JPEG of a historic location in the black background. Oh, and there's an amazing map selection screen. And by amazing, I mean completely useless. End of story.

Silver Lining

Hmm ... well, I guess it's nice that some younger gamers will have the chance to experience a pillar of gaming. Yet in its current presentation, it might make them dismiss it as crap. After all, kids are smart nowadays. Perhaps they'll be intrigued by the introduction in which you're immediately prompted to shoot at a UFO. That's kind of funny. Well, it's different anyway. Finally, the emulation of the original is spot-on! Actually, it serves to show just how little has been improved in this "revolution."

Our Deduction

Personally, I've never been huge into Space Invaders. It's interesting, because I'm normally all about old-school games. I can absolutely appreciate the enormous significance its release had on this industry, and it will forever have my respect. Yet it just never quite did it for me. Perhaps I was spoiled on the faster-paced scrolling shooters of the NES, but I still love Pitfall! despite my Super Mario Bros indoctrination. So needless to say, Revolution was incredibly boring to play through. It manages to be worse than the original game, even allowing the original to stand on its own today. Yet Extreme is pure joy. It takes the solid foundation of the original and incorporates elements of modern shooters to keep things fresh. The game has been reborn as a Lumines-esque techno experience. Music is channeled directly into the gameplay, as the sound effects and tempo are plugged directly into what's happening on the battlefield.

It's just the extra effort that makes Extreme so notable and Revolution so poor, especially in comparison. We've taken a look at a fair amount of shovelware games, and one of the few consistent traits to be found is that the games are lacking in effort. There's plenty of games that aren't enjoyable, either by my own preferences or by the majority of gamers, yet anyone can appreciate the effort spent on the title. Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck comes to mind. It's not for everyone, and the critical reception was fairly mixed. Yet I don't think anyone could deny that the title is unique, fun, and much effort was expended in its creation. It's a pretty important life lesson that any balanced individual learns: you don't have to like everyone, but you should at least try to find an acceptable level of respect for one another. Whether or not you're into the Space Invaders scene, Space Invaders Extreme should earn your respect. Space Invaders Revolution? Not so much.

In gaming, the term shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit. Bury the Shovelware takes a closer look at these titles, typically those that inhabit the lower end of metascores. It attempts to: 1) find out where and how the developer went wrong 2) identify common traits present in most shovelware 3) measure how long the game can be suffered.

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