Space Invaders Virtual Collection
  • Genre:
    • Shoot 'Em Up
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • Taito
  • Publisher:
    • Taito
  • Released:
    • JP 12/01/1995
Score: 60%

This review was published on 06/19/2016.

Space Invaders Virtual Collection is a space shooter video game developed and published by Taito Corporation for the Virtual Boy. It was originally released in Japan on December 1, 1995, but it never came out anywhere else in the world. This is basically an enhanced version of the Space Invaders game, which was originally an arcade title released in 1978. In the event you've been living under a rock for the past century, Space Invaders is one of the first shooting games ever made, and it's also one of the most influential games of all time. This being one of the forerunners of modern gaming, it helped expand the video game industry from a mere novelty to a worldwide phenomenon. Similar to the Pac-Man sprite, the little enemy alien character from Space Invaders eventually became a pop culture icon, essentially representing video games as a whole. As for what exactly is enhanced about this version of the game, that depends on your definition of the word. The main enhancement to the game is the Virtual Boy's stereoscopic 3D effect, but in exchange for that, it's rendered in the system's ghastly red and black color scheme that may make you go blind.

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In case you're too young to remember the original Space Invaders, let me provide a brief explanation of what it's like. You control a tiny spaceship at the bottom of the screen and you're limited to moving left and right and shooting lasers upwards. The mission objective is to kill the army of aliens at the top of the screen by shooting lasers at them. During the game, the aliens will move about, slowly getting closer and closer while also shooting lasers at you. There are pieces of cover you can hide behind, but the aliens are able to slowly destroy this cover with their own lasers. If your ship is struck by a laser, or one of the alien invaders reach the ground, then you lose. Once all the aliens have been exterminated, you move on to the next stage and repeat the process. The sequel to Space Invaders is also included in this package, but don't get too excited, because it's basically the same thing as the first game, just with a few minor differences. Those differences are too minor to recount here.

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There are several different modes available, one of which is Original 2D. As its name implies, this consists of the original Space Invaders game and its sequel, completely unmodified and without any of the Virtual Boy's stereoscopic tricks. The main and most obvious difference is that these versions are running on the Virtual Boy's tiny red and black screens, mostly making for an inferior experience. The only other thing that's different is that, instead of placing black bars on the sides of the screen, they put a sci-fi door background. It looks decent, but has absolutely no effect on game play, so it merely serves as eye candy. While it's nice that the game gives you the option of playing nearly direct ports of the originals, there's not much of a reason to do so. If you simply wanted to play the originals exactly as they were, you'd do better to play them elsewhere. Like, you could play them on something that doesn't have to be strapped onto your face.

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Virtual 3D is the main mode the game wants you to play. This is where you'll get to experience the Virtual Boy's stereoscopic 3D, for better or worse. For instance, the play field is tilted slightly so that it looks as if the aliens are directly approaching you, the person playing the game. Thanks to that and the 3D effect, it's a bit easier to line up your shots on this mode. Additionally, this mode has actual backgrounds as opposed to totally black backdrops. There are some other small touches, like how the enemies burst into pixels upon being defeated, which uses some neat 3D particle effects. However, despite all these visual differences, the games themselves still play precisely the same. The audio is also pretty much untouched. While the visuals are sort of neat, there's not much else to this mode. They could have done a lot more here, but as it is, it isn't terribly impressive. I mean, this would have been impressive back in 1978, but not so much in late 1995.

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Lastly, there's Challenge mode. This mode is split up into two sub-modes: Time Attack and Score Attack. As you can probably guess, Time Attack tests your ability to completely clear the screen of aliens in the shortest amount of time possible. Also, unlike the rest of the modes, you only get a single life to live in Time Attack, making it challenging indeed. As for Score Attack, well, that's all about getting the highest score possible. Unlike the other modes of the game, Time Attack and Score Attack both only contain a single stage. Besides that and the scoring system, Challenge mode is mostly the same as Virtual 3D mode. Quite frankly, that's a little disappointing. It's like they couldn't think of anything else to add and resorted to recycling modes. Or perhaps it was the result of laziness. Either way, Challenge mode barely adds anything of value to the overall package.

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Regardless of how you look at it, this is a pretty lackluster package. It's basically just Space Invaders and its sequel; nothing less, nothing more. Space Invaders is good, but this isn't a good way to enjoy it. The stereoscopic 3D effect isn't worth the price of admission, even if the price of admission is free. There's also nothing else really going for this game besides the stereoscopy. Space Invaders has received countless ports and remakes on various platforms over the years, and you're better off playing just about any other version that's out there. This is still technically one of the better Virtual Boy titles, but that has more to do with the system's terrible library of games than anything else.

Word Count: 1,015

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