Space Invaders

Space InvadersSee the videoThe Game: It’s quite simple, really. You’re the pilot of a ground-based mobile weapons platform, and there are buttloads of alien meanies headed right for you. Your only defense is a trio of shields which are degraded by any weapons fire – yours or theirs – and a quick trigger finger. Occasionally a mothership zips across the top of the screen. When the screen is cleared of invaders, another wave – faster and more aggressive – appears. When you’re out of “lives,” or when the aliens manage to land on Earth… it’s all over. (Atari, 1980)

Memories: Is there actually any history to this game that you don’t already know? Space Invaders was what Combat and Super Breakout weren’t – namely, the Atari 2600‘s equivalent of a killer app: a home version of an arcade game that had reached a critical mass of public recognition, even among non-video-game fans. People bought the then-expensive 2600 console just to play this game.

Space InvadersThe home versions of such games as Asteroids and Pac-Man still waiting in the wings, and Space Invaders is a pretty good example of a 2600 title done very well – there’s a little bit of sprite flicker, but not enough to ruin the game, and the sound effects are perfect (right down to the earth-shattering fart sound that signifies the player’s death). The graphics are different from the arcade 4 quarters!version, but considering how fancy video game visuals weren’t back then…who cared? Who even noticed? Atari’s Space Invaders replaced the Taito/Midway version in popularity…and home video game consoles were here to stay.