The old arcades I used to visit when I went on holiday with my parents every year really have a lot to answer for. While they may have been a key part in the formative years of great companies like CapCom, Namco, Sega and many others and spawned countless classic games, it’s also meant that decades later we’re still seeing those games cloned and reimagined by todays developers. Some of them have been updated with a real passion and love for the originals but bringing them truly up-to-date and giving us stunning new games such as Llamasoft’s mind-blowing TxK whereas others just flood the market with second rate Pong clones. Earth Assault goes back right to the early days of the arcade shooter and tries to put a new twist on the seminal classic Space Invaders…
To start off with, Earth Assault looks and feels just like Space Invaders minus the protective bunkers that you can hide behind – basically waves of aliens moving across the screen in a large group, progressively moving downwards towards you, speeding up as their numbers increase and your only means of defence is your tank, limited in it’s firing abilities to having a single missile on screen at any one time. Even the level formation and general look and feel of the aliens themselves makes you think that Earth Assault is little more than a straight Space Invader clone with nothing new to offer. Until you complete the first stage, that is.
From herein the game begins to show it’s diversity from the tried and trusted format. As well as scoring points for each alien you destroy, each one is worth a set amount of money and this can be spent in a shop that you visit between each of the games 50 levels. Here you can purchase extra lives or a range of power ups for your tank which including adding on new weaponry, upgrading existing guns you already have or increasing the rate of fire of your weapons allowing you to shoot more frequently. Once you’re happy with your spending spree (or if you decide to save your hard-earned cash) simply leave the store and carry on to the next level to see what devastation you can unleash…
On reaching the second level you then notice the next change from the Space Invader format… the level design itself. The attack wave now resembles a completely new layout and while the basic left-right movement remains the whole structure is new for each stage, larger aliens are introduced and some on the later stages require multiple hits to destroy them… and that’s before I mention the bosses that appear intermittently!
There’s a reason why Space Invader is regarded as a classic game – it’s simple yet addictive and challenging and is a game that can be played and enjoyed by all gamers no matter how skilled a gamer you consider yourself to be. The real appeal to the game lies in the fact you can pick it up and play it at any time without the worry of needing to set aside hours to play it, no need to worry about saving progress – it’s a no-nonsense classic shooter in its purest form and you can just concentrate on having fun. Earth Assault captures that fun factor perfectly and really gives you that urge to keep playing and have “one more go” and before you know it you’ve been playing far longer than you intended!
Visually, the game has a great 8-bit retro feel to it with bright, bold colours and while it’s quite a departure visually from the original, it suits this incarnation of the game quite well. Sound wise… this is probably the area that I think lets the game down, but in a strange way. On the title screen and throughout the game plays a rather cheery chip tune. Now there’s nothing wrong with the music itself, but it really seems out of place for this type of game and it lets the atmosphere down. Anyone who remembers the original Space Invaders can’t have failed to remember how the tension built up as you played the game as the simplistic sounds increased like a heartbeat as the aliens speed increased and that’s sadly lacking here. There are some really great, meaty sound effects for your weapons and all of the explosions but unfortunately they can’t compensate for the music.
Overall this is a great game and successfully manages to bring something new to Space Invaders. While it’s not the first clone to add power-ups to the game, it’s done very well and it’s a large enough game to offer plenty of challenges for most gamers. The only real reservation I have regarding this is the price as it’s one of the more expensive PSM games at the moment and it could probably do with being a bit more affordable. It’s still a great fun game and one that you’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of, but as PlayStation Mobile titles are concerned it’s a bit overpriced.
At A Glance
- Title: Earth Assault
- Publisher: Pixelelement
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 21Mb