If you liked Space Invaders but find it to be a bit too “retro”, then Hyperspace Invaders II could well be the perfect game for your pixel-destroying frenzy.
Okay, let’s get one thing clear first. Whilst this game clearly takes some inspiration from Space Invaders, the similarities begin and end with the pixelised art style, and although that sounds like a bad thing, the game itself is pretty top notch. Hyperspace Invaders II: Pixel Edition is developer Entity Medialab‘s version of a hardcore “vertical scrolling” shooter – or “shmup” as it’s more commonly known – that provides players with a combination of bullet and invader hell. That might sound a bit muddled, but bear with me.
The game itself is built around a combination of generative gameplay and adaptive difficulty. This means that whilst you’ll never play the same level twice (in theory), the better you become at the game, the harder the game becomes. Even if you repeat the levels over and over – which are denoted by the soundtrack to the level – each time you play, it’ll be different and get progressively harder. The concept of the level doesn’t change though, being centralised around the spawn of invaders that “pulse” with the beat of the soundtrack, but spawn rate/type and bullet patterns do. But because each level revolves around the soundtrack triggering bursts of invaders to the pulse of music’s beat, each level is different in its own right.
The levels themselves are of a simple construction. You have several weapon types, one of which is fired automativally, whilst you have a pulse beam at your disposal and several powerups available, increase rate of fire and damage. You power the pulse beam by scoring chains of kills, whereas your other weapons require no ammunition. This causes you to try and score the longest chain of kills possible to maximise your ammunition reward, which in turn allows you to kill more invaders in a potentially endless catch 22 scenario. Each time you rack 100 kills, this weapon increases in power but chews through ammunition, giving you a choice of being frugal or blasting an entire section. Be careful choosing the latter option, as the game could well surprise you further down the level…
Everything about Hyperspace Invaders II is simple yet effective. Invaders spawn from the top, the sides or at random on the screen, but because they can only move in the same four directions as you, it’s not a problem. Most are easily defeated with a single bullet which also applies to you, with others requiring a good dose of your death beam, exploding with brilliant visual effects and taking out nearby invaders or their own spawns. That said, the effects and visuals throughout are bright and crisp, and for the first time in a while, I actually turned up my speakers just to really make the most of the soundtrack. However, I was surprised to find you cannot get the OST as a seperate download, so the usual websites came to the rescue in providing all of the game’s soundtracks to be played on repeat.
The game comes with an OST of 10 tracks, from some quite renowned Electronic artists such as Atomhead and Carl Finlow, which is a welcome surprise for any Electronic music fan. This hard-hitting techno works well with the styling of the game, and Hyperspace Invaders II is not shy to throw in some lighting to rival any rave club. The pulsing of the neon in sync with the music really helps tie the music to the level with some invaders evening moving in time to the beat. And just like Techno music, this is one fast game. Really fast! It can become a bit difficult to see your own character when the screen gets busy however, as all the colour can start to take over the screen and restrict your vision. I also suffered noticeable framerate issues when it got really busy, ruining the flow of gameplay but not rending the game un-playable.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable game that successfully blends a classic game with modern twists. Easy to play but difficult to master, Hyperspace Invaders II: Pixel Edition will keep you entertained – and hyped – for hours, but it’s a shame there’s no separate OST.