Every Atari 7800 Game Reviewed
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5.0 Perfect
4.5 Excellent
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom

Funkmaster V Reviews

7800 Rank: Not Ranked

Genre: SHMUP

Awards: None
Space Invaders is Finally Here for the Prosystem... Pros: Tons of Options, Great Color Schemes
Cons: Could Be too Slow for Today's Gamers
In Refreshing, Minty, Brady Bunch-Style Color Palettes

Overview: History's first "killer app" was Space Invaders for the Atari VCS (2600).
It sold consoles like hotcakes in 1980, and ended up being the 2nd most purchased game in the entire library. After all, it had universal appeal. People hate aliens. Hell, I remember my PARENTS playing that thing for hours into the night, laughing hysterically. If you knew my parents, you would know that this was VERY odd story. One has to wonder, "Why is this rudimentary SHMUP so good, even today?" I think there's many reasons. The underdog factor, for one, and maybe it has to do with the deliberate pace of the invaders: very very slow at first, and then a frantic pace at the end. Its also easy to understand what's happening on screen, even to the most casual gamers (like my parents): if you let the aliens land, that's it for the human race. Badda-Boom. That simple. The 2600 version of the game is brilliant, with over 110 game variations and the first secret game code I ever remember. That's right: if you power on the system with the "Game Reset" switch held down, you would access double shots. That was badass. I don't even know how we figured that out, since there was no cheat sites, 1-900 numbers, or game mags back then... but we did and we cheated like hell. PacMan Plus (ole Bobby D) programmed this version for the 7800. Let's see if it is better than the VCS version or even if it is needed at all.

Graphics: The original Space Invaders game was in black and white, and Bob includes that option here for you purists, but there's also 3 other colors schemes which I think are terrific and tasteful. I don't know if his wife picked out the color schemes, but they are quite lovely. Option 2 is my favorite, FUNK-AY. There's even a secret graphic mode available for you to discover, but I will tell you about it here if you are nice to me. At the end of the day, this is a basic looking game for sure, but it somehow looks more distinguished than archaic.

Sound: There's no Pokey chip sound options from the Atari Age store on this one, but the rhythm of the space invaders ships as they "march" towards your impending doom builds the in-game tension nicely. There are decent sounds for explosions to boot, but that's about it in the noise department.

Gameplay: For those who have never seen this game before, SI is one of the earliest SHMUPs ever, made by the Taito Corporation in 1978 for the arcades. This game was so popular in arcades that it started a Yen shortage in Japan. It's simplicity is it's best feature. The slow moving invaders march towards the edges of the screens as a pack, making them fairly easy to pick off one at a time. But as a column of invaders touches the edge of the screen, they lower one row, and start to head the other way like an ambidextrous typewriter. If you are struggling at taking them out, they will eventually start to eat your shields. The more aliens eliminated, the faster the remaining horde becomes. When you are down to one or two baddies left, it gets quite frantic as the foo fighter flies back and forth, the audio is going crazy, and your blood pressure rises. Either you blow the last alien to Hell, it blasts you with a bomb of it's own, or it lands and the game ends... no matter how many reserve ships you have stored away. Because of this feature, Space Invaders was one of the earliest games that was effective at story telling: You screw up pal, and its the end of the world (spoiler alert- they always win). Tiny things have always bothered me about Space Invaders, though: Awarding a measly 10 points for killing an invader from the bowels of space. Geez Louise... dig a little deeper, Scrooge McDuck. And my heart still pangs for the double shot cheat code of my youth on all versions. I'm spoiled!

Interpretation: This is almost identical to the arcade version, except it has tons of modes, options and improvements. Speaking of...

Value: The hobby programmer known as "PacMan Plus" puts a lot of options in most of his games, and SI is no exception. The Atari 2600 version features over 110 "games" on their port. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing you could horse around come up with close to that many options on the 7800 version. The best feature is the simultaneous 2 player mode, but alternative innings are available for two, too. You can mess with alien bomb speeds (even no bombs if you are that lame), shield types, invisibility, zig zagging bombs and color schemes. The only noticeable things missing in this port from the excellent 2600 one is the double shot cheat code and the difficulty switch options, which make your gun bases fat or skinny. Or as we called them in our house (American or non-American guns).......... OK, we didn't call them that....... we weren't that cynical (or fat) yet, but we would soon be.

Overall: Space Invaders may be too repetitive and deliberate for you to jive with... but for most retro gamers, it is still fun, even by today's standards. Fools keep porting this IP everywhere for nearly every system and they keep screwing it up. Bob chose to eschew goofy graphic gimmicks (which happened on many ports) or suped up, new (and ridiculous) game modes. He tastefully delivered a proper Space Invaders port. That's all. And this is a fantastic version... in fact, it may be the best version of Space Invaders ever... but the problem is that there are several really good ports of Space Invaders already in existence. To me, I like the color scheme options A BUNCH and the gameplay is tried and true and arcade perfect. I'm glad that I have this version. It's tough to deny Bob's game, but honestly, if you already have the Atari 2600 port, you aren't missing much if you haven't pulled the trigger on the 7800 version.

Cheat Code:
If you would like to play this version of Space Invaders with Atari 2600-style graphics, click here to learn how.

Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Atari Age for allowing the use of his screenshots for this review.