'Space Invaders Extreme' a fantastic update to arcade classic

In an era of hyper-realistic graphics and advanced control schemes, it's nice to revisit one of the classics.

The 1978 smash Space Invaders returns on the portable landscape in Space Invaders Extreme, a thrilling remake of the arcade legend for the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS.

Players must still accomplish the same task they did 30 years ago: Destroy the hordes of alien invaders. Where Space Invaders turns 'extreme' is in both pace and weapon variety.

The controls are simple — move side to side while frantically slamming the button to fire your cannon.

The major difference with Extreme is the environment is incredibly more frenetic. You don't slowly pick off aliens one at a time as they descend toward you. Extreme is comprised of stages where wave after wave of unique aliens is thrust upon you. Some carry shields while others act as bombs diving toward you. There are ones so tiny, they're almost impossible to shoot.

The furious pace is more pronounced when you toss in bright visuals and a thumping techno beat.

Fortunately, your ship can pack more than a simple cannon. If you shoot specific types of aliens, you're rewarded with offensive power-ups. Take out four blue aliens and receive a brief laser upgrade. Shoot four red ones to add bombs to your arsenal.

This layer of strategy expands through a series of mini-games that pop-up in the heat of battle. When you shoot the correct combination of aliens, a 'bonus round' appears where you can rack up points or additional bonuses such as an extra life.

If you complete some rounds, you'll enter a Fever Mode in which your cannon gets a significant upgrade. You'll also earn extra points depending on the number of aliens you shoot.

Although playing through a five-stage quest goes by quickly, Extreme does offer incentive to return and achieve higher scores. Both portables also allow for two-player wireless competitions.

Space Invaders Extreme is a fantastic reimagination of the franchise, adding novel twists to the action while still evoking a bit of arcade nostalgia.

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