The Many Incarnations of Space Invaders

This article is part of a series I call “The Many Incarnations of…” which will chronicle the different game titles that have been released over the years featuring a central character or theme. Pac-Man is here to provide “color commentary,” and Professor Pac-Man is on hand with interesting tidbits of trivia about each game!

1978
Space Invaders

From the Flyer: The electrifying new one or two player game in which the players match their skill and wits in defense of the planet Earth, against waves of attacking invaders from outer space. The player must strategically position, then fire his laser missile launcher attempting to knock out the ever-attacking invaders before they can drop missiles destroying the defender's protective bunkers and missile launcher. Two players play alternately for high scores and extended play time. Space Invaders offers titilating sounds, dramatic play action and inviting cabinet graphics creating player appeal and high income.

Ladies and gentlepacs, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our pac-eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings who landed in the Pac-farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from space. Ohhhh Noooo! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: There is a point in the game where the player's laser base becomes impervious to the Invaders' missiles! When the Invaders are down to the second to last row, the one before they invade, their missiles cannot harm the player's base. This is a vital secret to getting beyond the 10th wave.

1980
Space Invaders Pinball

From the Flyer: A dramatic technological breakthrough in pinball packaging from the Electronic Wizards at Bally. Hypnotic! Mesmerizing! Spectacular, stroboscopic infinity effect on Space Invaders backglass joins forces with the accelerating heartbeat and laser-like sound effects to produce a living machine! Players are totally captivated as the light patterns change and sounds increase with the games' play. An intensity builds as the scores build to a crescendo for a totally unique and awesome pinball package. No location has ever experienced such profit power as commanded by this fantastic flipper! Reach the outer limits of pinball with Space Invaders extraterrestrial scoring features! Brilliant Bonus Feature With A Brain - Bonus scores advance one step when player's ball hits any one of the drop targets, the center Invader Target, the hoop, or a ball through either return lane. 1,000 to 39,000 bonus is collected by the outer hole or the Mystery Ship Rollover. A 5x bonus light adds scoring potential, and the 20,000 outhole bonus is held in the game's brain. Additionally, 5 red Invader Targets advance a 20-40-60 thousand bonus upon consecutive completions; the third also gives a Special. This 20-40-60 bonus remains in the memory, relighting with each ball. Captivating Clone Chamber Feature With Memory - A trapped ball capable of scoring from 10 to 50,000 points lies in the chamber, beginning a new game at 10,000, and increasing with each hit. The Clone Chamber target scores 3 bonus advances. Pursue Blue Invaders For Heroic Rewards - The Blue Invaders consist of 5 rollover lanes. Knocking out the three Blue Invaders at the top of the playfield lights the center rollover to score the Clone Chamber Value. Completing all 5 lights the rollover lanes for extra balls and the center target arrow for 5,000 points and 3 bonus advances. Reach Warp Speed Points - Bonus Accelerator Hoop scores 5,000 points and advances bonus, then scores 5,000 points and multiplies the bonus from 2 thru 5x, then scores 25,000 points and/or Special. Random Mystery Ship Feature Keeps Players On Stand-By Alert - A drop target worth 500 points and one bonus advance, a rollover for collecting the bonus, and a 50,000 point light are the 3 sections of this feature that randomly activate for a limited time, allowing players a chance for full scoring potential. A true challenge for even the most skilled players! Prepare for Ultimate Profit Power with Space Invaders... the pinball.

Laser missiles couldn’t stop them all, so what brilliantly conceived weapon do we attempt to defend the planet with this time? Nuclear weapons? No… just a silver ball and a pair of flippers. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Space Invaders was the first pinball machine to be based on a video game. Bally's video game division, Midway, had licensed Space Invaders from Taito in Japan, and decided to capitalize on the machine's incredible success by using it as a theme for a pinball.

Space Invaders Deluxe (a.k.a. Space Invaders Part II)

From the Flyer: New Deluxe Space Invaders - The World's Hottest Game...Now Even More Challenging! The fundamentals are similar to the original Space Invaders game. It can be played by one or two players. As the 'attacking' sound is heard, invaders appear on the screen. Also a laser base and fortresses appear on the lower side of the screen. To move laser left or right - press control buttons. To fire laser, push the fire button. Invaders advance step by step against the laser base - they also move left and right. Fortresses are gradually destroyed by the attack of invaders. They are also destroyed by player's laser. As the number of invaders decrease, they move faster. A MYSTERY - UFO hit gives player bonus scores. (50, 100, 150 or 300 pts.) Game ends when all laser bases are hit by invader missiles. Deluxe Bonus Scoring - When score reaches 1500 points (adjustable), a bonus laser base appears with a 'beep' sound. If invader of 'D' or 'E' row remains lastly on the screen, the last invader hit will earn the following bonus points: E1 ... 1,000 pts., E6 ... 800 pts., Other ... 500 pts. New Deluxe Game Features - Added competitive variations for new waves (racks) of invaders: 2nd Rack: UFO will randomly drop invaders. 3rd Rack: When an invader is hit, it will sometimes divide into 2. 4th Rack: Invaders fire more missiles. 5th Rack: Bonus points can be added. High Scorer's Name Registration - At the end of the high game, the alphabet ('A' to 'Z'), and the words 'RUB' and 'END' appear on the screen. By pressing the laser control button, the scorer moves the red line under the letter, which can be registered on the screen by pressing the fire button. RUB - Wrong letter registered can be 'erased' by moving the red underline to the word 'RUB', push fire button and letter will be cancelled. END - When the high scorer's name is registered, red underline is moved to the word 'END' and fire button is pushed. High scorer's name registration can include up to 10 letters and must be registered within 1 1/2 minutes after the game.

The Invaders are back and this time in style…or… at least different colors. The best pac-soldiers even get credit for their unyielding service defending the planet. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: There was also a game entitled ‘Space Invaders II’ which was a Midway in-house design. The programmer's name is contained in a small message inside one of the PROMs. This is not to be confused with ‘Space Invaders Part II’ as this cocktail version allowed two players to play simultaneously either cooperatively or against each other.

1985
Return Of The Invaders

From the Flyer: Balloons have appeared everywhere in the sky. The Space Invaders are back with new attack patterns and in full color. Move your tank across the floor and blast the Invaders before they reach the ground. You can hide behind the structures but beware; too much damage and they will leave you defenseless against the hoards of Invaders.

But the Invaders came back the very next day, (actually it took them five years- but on with my song!) The Invaders came back, we thought they were goners, but the Invaders came back; they just couldn't stay away. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: ‘Return Of The Invaders’ was actually developed by UPL for Taito. It bears UPL's singular visual style, as well as their typical difficulty. It also contains many new features that would be repeated in Taito's later Space Invaders sequels. Unfortunately, Taito neglected to mention UPL in the finished game.

1990
Super Space Invaders '91 (a.k.a. Majestic Twelve - The Space Invaders Part IV)

From the Flyer: Eight rewarding bonus items. Vivid graphics. A phenomenal shooting game has finally made its debut. The Majestic Twelve, top secret orders established a decade ago to take defensive measures against a brief and still unconfirmed UFO invasion, have remained idle. In 1991, a startling discovery forced the Majestic Twelve file to be reopened and their much awaited orders put into effect. Discovered were reports of cattle mutilations increasing at an alarming rate. Only one explanation exists... THE INVADERS ARE BACK! And this time it’s up to you to halt their invasion! [Clear All 11 Rounds!] First... Select The Stage. You are given command of 8 different types of super bonus items. Defeat the armies of UFO invaders and challenge the enemy bosses as they emerge one after another. Pluto marks the last stage. If you survive this visually spectacular battle with the big enemy boss and clear all 11 rounds, you will be truly victorious. [Collect the items! Press the B button!] Collect bonus items while using the shield to avoid enemy fire. There are a total of 8 types of bonus items, including Fire Flower, Shield Up, etc. The colorful appearance of the butterfly indicates Time Stop. While using the art of timing strategically, keep a watchful eye on the item gauge which indicates the time limit given for each item. [Increase your score with two types of bonuses] Rescue The Cattle! / Cattle Mutilation: Blaze away at designated time when the UFO swarms appear. High flight increases the score. Rescuing cattle while exposed to danger also earns high points. No UFO attack. A powerful 3D image / front view: If you eliminate the boss before the time limit, the remaining time at that point is added to your score. Hitting the columns means lost time. TOP SECRET: If you collect "P Capsules", your firing speed will increase. This power continues until you are hit and is especially useful in demonstrating your power against the enemy bosses and cattle mutilators.

Hey, what’s with this every 5 years thing!? They’re back again, and not only have they changed their appearance, but also it seems to this pac that they have been polishing the art of attack. Look out! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: “Majestic 12” is the code name of an alleged secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, supposedly formed in 1947 by an executive order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. The purpose was to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell incident, the purported crash of an alien spaceship near Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947.

1993
Space Invaders DX

From the Flyer: Insert Coin. Select Play Mode: - Space Invaders: the classic Space Invaders game, - Vs. Game: battle against another player, - Parody Game: play the classic Space Invaders game using graphics from famous Taito games. Space Invaders Instructions: Select a one or two player game. Move your laser base left and right to avoid the invaders' missiles. If you are hit by a missile you will lose a life. Press the Fire button to fire your laser. Destroy all the invaders to clear a level. The game is over when you run out of lives or the invaders reach the bottom of the screen. Scoring: - Bottom two rows: 10 pts, - Middle two rows: 20 pts, - Top row: 30 pts, - Saucer: Mystery. Vs. Game Rules: You win if you destroy all the invaders on your screen, or your opponent is defeated by their invaders. Destroy colored invaders to produce special effects: Blue: Moves your opponent's invaders down by one row. Yellow: Moves your invaders down by one row. Green: Destroys all the invaders in the same row. Red: Moves both players' invaders down by two rows. Purple: A blue, yellow, green or red effect will randomly occur. Saucer: Switch invaders with your opponent.

Hey, now this is more my style – I can play the original or I can play against Ms. Pac-Man! We even get a chance to make fun of the invading pac-creeps in the parody mode! Now this is fun! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Many characters from early Taito games appear at each level in the parody mode:
Level 1 - Characters from "The New Zealand Story", Level 2 - Characters from "The Fairyland Story", Level 3 - Characters from "Bubble Bobble", Level 4 - Characters from "Rainbow Islands - The Story of Bubble Bobble 2", Level 5 - Characters from "Mizubaku Adventure", Level 6 - Characters from "Arkanoid", Level 7 - Characters from "KiKiKaiKai", Level 8 - Characters from "Darius", Level 9 - Characters from "Don Doko Don".

1995
Space Invaders '95 - The Attack of Lunar Loonies (a.k.a. Akkanvader)

From the Flyer: Instructions: Insert Coin and press one player or two player start. Choose your craft. Move your ship left and right and press the Fire button to shoot the invaders. Destroy all the invaders on the screen to complete a level. If the invaders reach the bottom of the screen or you are hit by an enemy invader, you will lose a life. Hold down the Fire button to charge-up and fire a stronger missile. Shoot UFOs to get special items. Items: Rapid Fire- Enables rapid fire. Bowling Ball- The ball eliminates all invaders in its way. Bomb- Destroys multiple invaders. Time Stop- Freezes all invaders temporarily. Craft types: 1) Teke-Teke, Pilots- Dan & Mayumi, Charge Shot- A powerful shot that destroys multiple invaders in a column. 2) Toilet, Pilots- Ben-Ben & Pen-Pen, Charge Shot- A germ attack that destroys multiple invaders. 3) Bucket / Corrugated Carton, Pilots- Harry & Nancy, Charge Shot- Guided missiles. 4) Amulet, Pilots- Sayo-Chan & Miyo-Chan, Charge Shot- An explosive amulet that destroys multiple invaders. 5) Silver Hawk, Pilots- Cride & Bonny, Charge Shot- Rapidly fires 4 shots.

It would appear that our good-natured pac-humor with the last invasion went to their heads. The Invaders are back and this time they’re making fun of themselves! The name says it all: ‘Lunar Loonies’! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: The ‘Akkanvader’ title of this game translates from Japanese as 'Rogue-vader'.

Beyond the Arcades

2002 – Space Invaders: Invasion Day (a.k.a. Space Raiders)
2003 – Space Invaders Anniversary
2005 – Space Invaders Revolution
TBA – Space Invaders Evolution

Well you know what I always say: If you can’t chomp ‘em, RUN!!!!! Wocka! Wocka!

* This article is only a listing of known unique game titles. It does not cover clones of released titles, nor will it list the various platforms the titles have appeared on. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive reference listing, and should be viewed only as the recreational offering it was intended to be. Game descriptions, game titles and registered trademarks mentioned herein are properties of their respective owners.

First Published January 2007