Space Invaders Infinity Gene in Review – Evolution To Near Perfection

1978′s monumental game, Space Invaders, is a game that almost everyone should have played at least once in their life. Though I’ve played the original several times coin-op at arcades and pizzerias, I wasn’t its biggest fan. I found the graphics bland and the music dull. However, for 1978 it was an amazing feat for the budding video game business. Now, in 2009, a new Space Invaders game, Space Invaders Infinity Gene (or SIIG for short) – is out. And it rocks. This game not only draws my attention more than a fly to a lightbulb, but is my favorite shooter game of all time.

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I cleared my mind about my prior experiences with Space Invaders, and started up SIIG (which has a very appealing icon if I might say so myself) for the first time. The loading screen, a score table which looks as though it was taken right from the original 1978 game will excite video game veterans. Following it, I finally delved into the game that I was highly anticipating. KABLAM! SIIG kicks me right in the leg by starting off exactly as remembered it… as the original boring game. But, as I was progressing through this nightmare, it suddenly changed into what I was hoping for; the game suddenly changed, leaving me speechless.

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NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

The central theme around SIIG was inspired by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution – you must adapt and overcome obstacles to become stronger. That’s exactly how this jaw-dropping game plays out. In order to survive in SIIG, you must evolve to meet the prerequisites to beat each level. To evolve, you must beat levels in order to earn enough points which are put towards your gene. If you have enough points to fill up a gene, then you evolve. The points you earn are determined by how big of a chain you can get (basically a combo which increases when you eliminate enemies and their bullets with consecutive shots), and how many Nagoya attacks (great Japanese restaurant near my house – but in SIIG it means how many times you go through an enemy’s bullet before it becomes visible and causes harm) you can successfully perform. Each Nagoya attack awards 3,000 extra points and each chain multiplies your points by 0.1 (1 chain= 1.1 multiplier, 2 chain= 1.2 multiplier and so on).

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Your ship is guided by Captain Finger and fires automatically at the oncoming space enemies. Touch controls are the only possible method of controlling a ship through a swarm of bullets, and I laugh at anyone that says otherwise. SIIG gets so intense at points that it reminds me of rRootage, which is nearly impossible to begin with.

In total, there are over 25 stages, including extras, that can be unlocked when you evolve (so far I have unlocked 9 extra stages). Each stage is unique and nearly breathtaking. The graphics are retro to the max and slightly remind me of Eliss. The stages all have their own names and there are new challenges around every corner. Not to mention, the epic boss battles that seem to take place one after the other. The bosses range from a giant retro Ladybug (which now has made me hate the once adorable bug), Sun, Moon, and the mind-blowing Mandala. Every boss has its own tactic and method of defeat. For example, one of the “unexpected enemies” aka “new challenger approaches”, which are basically mini bosses to get you warmed up for the big stuff – has a square attached at the end of a random line. You must aim at this square in order for the line to shrink and eventually destroy the mini boss when the square reaches it. In essence, it’s like lighting dynamite with a long fuse.

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Umm... Is this even possible?!

As mentioned before, the evolution shapes SIIG’s gameplay. Right from the get go, you evolve into your first arms ship whose special ability is rapid fire. I have seven arms (ships) in total, which I believe is all of them. Each ship’s special ability will be the determining factor whether or not you can pass the level. For instance, if you keep failing a level over and over again it means: 1) You can’t handle the intensity 2) You have to go back to earlier stages and evolve to unlock a new arm.

Out of the 7 total ships, I found the Lock-On to be my favorite hands down. The name of the ship gives away its special ability – it “locks on” to your enemies and fires homing missiles at both the back and front of the enemy ship (go figure). However, believe it or not, the Classic is still the best. By best I mean strongest; and by strongest, I mean if you’re able to hit an extremely fast moving alien with the bullet from an extremely slow firing cannon. At first, every ship seems weak in its own right. That’s because every ship has a weakness. With that being said, there are power-ups that you accumulate during a stage which greatly increases your ship’s strength. By blowing up a mini UFO during a stage, it drops a Jimmy Neutron-looking atom that powers up your attacks and increases your rate of fire. If you’re using the Lock- On ship and acquire a powerup, it will be able to shoot more missiles at one time. Be warned, if you get hit, then you automatically lose all your powerups (but you’re able to reclaim them if you’re fast enough).

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The slowest but the strongest - Classic

The music is very impressive with its retro techno beat tracks. Speaking of which, SIIG utilizes the 3.0 feature of accessing your music library quite nicely. Alongside the regular stages mode, there is a unique music mode that creates original levels based off your iTunes library tracks. You don’t know epic until you play a custom made level of Kashmir that lasts the full 8:29. Think BeatRider, but instead of notes flying down your screen, it’s synchronized aliens spawning to the rhythm of the song. No matter what song you choose, there will be a different experience each time, which leads to practically limitless replayability.

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Space Invaders Infinity Gene + Led Zeppelin = EPIC WIN

Continuing on with the Darwinian theme, even the menu looks like one big evolutionary tree. As you complete stages, it grows, and every time you evolve after a stage, the tree branches out with unlockables. Ships and extra stages aren’t the only things that can be unlocked by evolution. Both Sounds and Graphics sections at the beginning of the tree (aka main menu) can be unlocked when evolving. From Sounds you can play classic sound effects and even songs in the game. From Graphics you can view artwork for mini bosses, Space Invaders, and more (there’re 15 total graphics). In the Options menu (where options such as changing the game’s difficulty, volume- background music and sound effects, turning auto shot on/off, and more can be accessed), stock amount (how many lives you have) can also be unlocked. Unfortunately, if you choose more than 3 stock or play on easy mode, your highscores will not be saved. Lastly, a Hard mode is accessible when you complete the game on any difficulty (3 difficulties total- Easy, Normal, and Hard).

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Turning a Space Invaders hader (yeah, you read that right) into a fanatic is a huge accomplishment. This game is the perfect definition of what a high quality top down shooter game should be. What amazes me even more is how well it runs; even on original iPhone, it is fast, with minimal to no lag or frame rate issues. I applaud any game that can get as frantic as rRootage, but running smoothly and crash free. SIIG easily met those standards – it is truly an outstanding game that makes any Space Invaders fan (new or old) cry for joy.

When it comes down to it, SIIG earns the wonderful Kiss It rating with flying colors and UFOS.

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App Summary
Title:Space Invaders Infinity Gene (v1.0)Developer:TAITO Corporation
Price:$4.99App Size:22.1 mb
  • Retro graphics
  • Techno music
  • Music mode
  • Over 25 different stages
  • Many unlockables
  • Tons of replayability value
  • Can get difficult to see enemy fire during intense stages

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