The Game: The invaders are back, and this time they plan on making quick work of Earth’s defenses. Columns of alien invaders descend from space, staying safely outside of the range of the player’s cannon. A few aliens at a time break formation and attempt to reach the player’s floating stockpiles of ordnance and extra ships floating in the center of the screen; if the aliens are able to reach these items, the player will lose a life. The only option is to take out the invaders before they succeed. (Universal, 1980)
Memories: In the beginning, some of the most respectable future names in the video game business got their start cranking out clones of Pong. The ubiquitous success of Space Invaders had a similar effect; some of the earliest arcade efforts from some surprising names (including Nintendo) either remixed Taito‘s quarter-grabbing mega-hit, or copied it outright. Universal, the future makers of Mr. Do! and Ladybug, was not immune to Space Invaders fever either.
As reworkings of basic game concepts go, Cosmic Guerilla is a bit fiendish; the player can’t really accomplish anything until the invaders break ranks and start stealing his supplies. In keeping with the Space Invaders formula of allowing the player only a single shot on the screen at any one time, Cosmic Guerilla allows the aliens near-infinite firepower, guaranteeing that most rounds of the game will be short and sweet indeed.
The whole thing is wrapped up in the trippy, Jefferson-Starship-album-cover-worthy style of cabinet art that Universal often used in 1980, leading one to wonder: who’s the guerilla here? The “G” written on the player’s shields would seem to indicate that the player is the guerilla, but if that’s the case, then why are the aliens the ones making sneaky mad dashes to rob the player of his own supplies?
Perhaps most surprising is that this game did get a home computer port whose obscurity matches that of its arcade version: a version of Cosmic Guerilla appeared on the ZX Spectrum computer.
A more inventive reworking of Space Invaders than most, Cosmic Guerilla is enjoyable enough on its own merits, and is a strong early entry from a game manufacturer whose original efforts would grow more assured and groundbreaking with time.