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Space Invaders (Atari)




Space Invaders? Classic! At least the arcade version was, but how does the 2600 killer app stack up today? Well... when compared to the other versions that have come out since, and even the sequel that was released on the 2600, not well. This game has really dated, but I'll try to be as fair as possible despite not being a very big fan of the game... I prefer Galaga to be honest... but there doesn't seem to be a Galaga port on the 2600... yet at least. How are those graphics?


Basic... Very basic You get six rows of descending aliens, versus the eleven you got in the arcade, and I know the arcade wasn't a graphical powerhouse but the alien designs are absolutely iconic. So... if the original alien designs are SO iconic why did the 2600 have none of them? The top row aliens look like the TiVo logo? Why does row two have feet, despite being flying aliens? The playfield is very basic, consisting of the ground which is completely straight except for a weird divot at the far left, and the shields, which are taller and narrower than the arcade version. The one thing that I'll admit looks better than the arcade version is your gun, it's larger and looks a bit more like a gun. Other than that though, everything is a solid color, there is no noticeable sprite flickering which is nice, but this game is just visually bland.


Sounds? This game has very basic sound effects, you shoot, they shoot, they explode, you explode. There are also the classic background sounds but in the 2600 version it's much crunchier and lacks the driving bass. There is also the trilling noise as the Command Alien Ship appears on the screen. If my math is correct... that's six sounds, more than some, but still not that impressive. What about gameplay?


This game's gameplay, much like the graphics and sounds, is extremely basic... You move side to side as the constantly descending aliens shoot at you. Seems pretty simple... but then you realize... this game has one hundred and twelve different variations, and since I don't have all day to write this review I'm just gonna include the spreadsheet the put in the manual. Needles to say this game has a lot of replay value, especially if you have two players, one could almost argue that this is a two player game.


This is probably the quintessential Atari 2600 game, just about everybody has it. This is also one of the cheapest games on the system too, so there isn't really an excuse not to have it in your collection. Give it a shot... or twelve, you probably wont regret it.


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So... if the original alien designs are SO iconic why did the 2600 have none of them?


I'm glad to see someone else has the same opinion that I did about the graphics. I was always disappointed about that back-in-the-day. The 2600 versions have since become iconic in their own way, but I would've thought that Atari would've have wanted Space Invaders to be as representative of the original as possible, having paid for the license. But corporately, they just wanted the games to get done. In the interviews for Stella at 20, Rick Mauer talks about how the graphics ended up the way they did (10 minutes into this video).


The 5200 (which should have been able to get even closer to the arcade) was even further off the mark.

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I strongly prefer this VCS version over the arcade. The color graphics are nice, easier on the eyes. And for many more reasons.


I won't be doing any marathon sessions, I don't do any anymore.. But I will play this game from time to time for 20 minutes.

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I would put this way near the top of the list of best Atari 2600 games. The multiple variations of gameplay (over 100 different settings!) really made this a new experience with each one. I liked holding down reset while powering on the system and starting a game; you get double shots! The sound effects were very different from the arcade but very effective!

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