Reviewed: March 27, 2005
Released: March 10, 2005
Trial Version Download
Iím sure many Generation-Xers fondly recall weekends at the local arcade or bowling alley, dumping quarters into Space Invaders and Galaxian and the Saturday Night Fever or Star Wars themed pinball machines in the back corner.
My only question is this: Why did it take 25 years for somebody to figure out that pinball + space invaders = a perfect addiction for old school gamers? Fortunately, WildSnake Software delivers the perfect pinball/arcade game combo with WildSnake Pinball: INVASION 2.
Invasion 2 has all the looks and action of a classic arcade space shooter, but your ďspaceshipĒ has two sets of flippers that bank green plasma balls into alien scum bent on giving Earth a rectal probe. This sequel adds a musical score, new levels and even more pinball mayhem to last yearís popular downloadable game, Invasion Pinball.
Invasion 2 offers:
First and foremost, Invasion 2 has addressed many of the complaints gamers had with the original Invasion by being a pinball simulator first, arcade game second. The alien ships come screaming in just as they do in Space Invaders, but I soon realized the gaps between formations were the ramps for my balls to zoom through. The balls even bounced between alien ships like a real pinball bounces off bumpers.
In the beginning rounds I had to keep track of two balls, and very soon I was trying to juggle four balls while deflecting the alien power shots coming my way. If I didnít deflect the alien shots just right, my flippers could be destroyed, adding an extra dimension to an already frantic game.
As you would expect in a pinball-arcade game hybrid, there are plenty of power ups that reward you new lives, turn your green balls into super-nasty fireballs, or give you bonus points. The aliens seemed hard to kill if they were grouped in formation, but if I banked a ball just right I watched with satisfaction as a dozen enemy ships disappeared in flames.
The battles with the alien boss ships proved the hardest for me since I had to aim the flipper just right to prevent it from bouncing all around the screen without hitting the big smart bug. Pinball wizards will love some of the missions, which require excellent timing and pinpoint accuracy with the flippers.
If you think youíve played a great game, Wildsnake maintains a worldwide hi-score list where you can immediately report your results via the Internet. I came in 60 out of 110, not bad but way short of the top players reporting scores in the millions.
Invasion 2ís graphics pale compared to Half Life 2, but Iím giving this game a high score because they perfectly capture the look of arcade classics. What I love most about this game are the neon reds, blues, yellows and greens that remind me of the brightly colored super VGA games from the late 1980s. Yet the game captures all the details you wish you could have seen in Galaxian or Space Invaders, such as writhing tentacles on the boss alien ship or the ripples of energy spreading across the power balls. The backdrops for the missions are also stunning, with intricately rendered galaxies and planets.
One of the big changes in this sequel is the addition of a decent techno soundtrack. Some of the beats had a vaguely X-Files quality that I appreciated, but too often the music drowned out the sound of the balls bouncing off flippers or of alien ships exploding. I also didnít like the anti-climatic music that would play during the final boss fights.
This was a tough call for me since Invasion 2 is a great pinball simulation. I also want to encourage readers to support independent companies like WildSnake for putting out great titles. I just couldnít get over the $19.95 price tag for a downloadable game when Namco is offering package deals with several classic arcade titles AND a controller/console for the same price.
I think a $15 price tag would make Invasion 2 more competitive, but true pinball fans will certainly not feel cheated at paying the extra money for this well-made and creative title. You also canít argue with getting a chance to demo most of the gameís features before buying it.
Invasion 2 may appeal to a niche market, but I think any gamer who is at least 25-years-old will appreciate this pinball-space arcade hybrid. I also have to say banking multiple balls without losing my flippers to those pesky aliens was way more exciting than playing a vintage pinball machine at the local tavern. Kudos to WildSnake for showing the gaming world pinball and arcade games go together as nicely as peanut butter and chocolate.
SPECIAL OFFER: WildSnake is offering GCM readers a special 25% discount off the registration fee for INVASION 2. Just enter this code WILD-M5I6-GCM in their coupon area on their order page. - Offer Expires 4/30/05