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Alien Invaders Plus

Magnavox 1980

Odyssey 2



Back in the day there was Pong, then came Space Invaders. Apparently Space Invaders was the first game that made video games hit the big time, thus when home consoles came around everyone wanted it. Problem was Atari got the exclusive so all the other companies had to go with (sometimes blatant) knock offs. Thus Alien Invaders Plus, a pretty good clone that improves somewhat on the formula. This was actually one of the games I used to have back in the day.

You control a triangular cannon (which actually is a triangle with a slightly flat top) that shoots at a squadron of descending aliens from behind a line of shields, standard stuff there. The twist comes from that when you get hit your cannon is destroyed, revealing you as a little blockheaded man. You then have to run under one of your shields and hit the fire button, which eliminates the barrier but gives you another cannon. Thus you have three "lives" but gameplay doesn't stop or reset when you "die." A pretty good concept that leads to some mad scrambling when the heat turns up. After your cannon is destroyed the third time the ever present "mothership" (which looks more like a cyclopean squid-clam thing with tentacles) flies down to the ground with a very loud siren and attempts to finish you off. At this point your shields are gone and all you can do is run back and forth and try to delay the inevitable.

The good stuff first: The game is pretty fast moving for this era. Your cannon hauls it across the floor while the invaders tend to speed up in later levels. Until then you're more likely to get hit by running into a shot while not paying attention, lulled by a false sense of security. Then you realize that was exactly their plan.. damn these insidious aliens! They must be destroyed! The graphics are clean without any flicker and the sound is clear.

The bad stuff: The game looks like ass. The attempt to make the Alien Invaders not look like the invaders from Space Invaders may have been a little to successful. First row are nothing but circles, which actually are not enemies but a shield for the invaders. Second row look like mushrooms (which are supposed to be enemy cannons.) Third row are generic little block-headed men they seem to use in every Odyssey 2 game. Looks like attack of the Pizza Chefs or something. The cannon is a simple triangle, and the "Shields" are plain black squares. Could've used a little more imagination here. Thankfully the Queen Alien-mothership thing actually looks like it's from outer space.

The sprites also suffer from being made all out of one color, but I think this was a hardware limitation.

The part when the Alien queen flies down to finish you off is cool, the first time it happens. Thing is your little pilot runs just as fast as the Alien Queen flies, thus it's pretty easy to keep running back and forth and dodge it's shots indefinitely. Back in the day my brother was particularly adept at this, which meant even when he "died" he could keep it going for another half hour and I never got a turn. They should have put a time limit or something, or just made the last shot kill you completely. A little anticlimactic there fellas.

Overall a decent Space Invaders clone that does a bit to distinguish itself, improves in some areas but falls short in others. Worth playing but definitely not the "killer app" for the Odyssey 2.

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