The Game: 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, 1982)
Memories: Adapted from the Atari 400/800 home computer version of the coin-op hit, Space Invaders for the 5200 is certainly colorful, though one could argue that it’s ultimately not as faithful to the original as the graphically simpler version that appears on the Atari VCS.
But if you’re not looking for a close approximation of the arcade game’s look, this isn’t a bad game in and of itself. The 5200’s ability to show more intricate and colorful graphics is definitely what’s on display here – your shields pulse with coalescing colors, and the advancing alien army is a moving rainbow of doom. Control-wise, the 5200’s non-centering controllers have an unusual effect here, allowing you to jet to one side of the screen and slowly work your way toward the other. As much as I prefer to use the Wico Command Control joystick and keypad for my 5200 gaming, this is a rare case where it’s better to use the real deal just for the speed differential unique to this version of Space Invaders.