It seems to be a common theme to see mobile phone games transition across to the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network and the latest to do so is Space Invaders Infinity Gene, a game that was released on the iPhone in July 2009. Taito, the developer, have interpreted the retro video game from the 80s in a very loose format. Or as the game claims, an "Evolution", which has resulted in Space Invaders becoming a bullet hell type game.
This means that the original philosophy of Space Invaders isn't that present within the game. Sure, the goal is to still destroy aliens, but the game now takes to scrolling up screen and focuses less on defending objects. Players will recognise the sounds and the models from Space Invaders but the rest of the game is pretty new in regards to the changes and added content to broaden the game.
Players begin their gaming journey by starting the campaign and advancing through a series of stages. Initially these act as tutorials, adding "Evolutions" to the gameplay, such as the ability to move in all directions instead of the fixed left and right at the bottom of the screen and additional weaponry. These can be enhanced by collecting power-ups which typically spawn from the UFO enemies from the original game. As mentioned in the intro the game becomes more about focusing on insane amounts of enemies/weapon fire moving around the screen and this Bullet Hell approach can be satisfying when a player completes a stage.
It's worth noting that on a visual scale, the amount of stuff on screen and the flickering wireframe backgrounds play some serious havoc on the eyes. Playing for extended periods of time can be pretty difficult just because of this. As for the music and sound effects, these are actually pretty comfortable to listen to. They tend to be very techno sounding and they fit rather well with the game's chaotic atmosphere.
With regards to the gameplay, players will be exerting very little control, aside from moving their ship around and alternating between fire buttons. One causes a constant stream of weapons fire, while the other will allow players to do single shot fire. However, with the addition of power-ups which increase the rate of fire, and with some certain weapons, make them more potent in some way or other, this adds enough variation to prevent it becoming bland. It is worth noting that dying causes these power-ups to float away from the destroyed ship and unless the player retrieves them the game can become considerably harder. There is also a special ability called a Nagoya Attack and this is performed by flying into enemy fire when it is semi transparent allowing players to not take damage briefly, but it's pretty complicated to actually perform correctly.
Stages tend to be split up into two sections: surviving the constant onslaught from enemies and then fighting a boss. Some of these bosses have quite inventive ways to kill them and no one boss acts like another. Having said that, usually the best way to kill one is just shooting it until it dies. Also some of the later stages require certain tactics to complete, there's even a point where players have to puzzle their way through a maze of doors while flying up screen. Each stage feels different enough to entertain and make players addicted to the game, though overall the campaign is actually quite short and it's possible to finish it pretty damn fast.
What's good though, is that the game doesn't stop there. Players can unlock additional bonus stages as they progress through the game and it's also possible to transform their points into experience to evolve. This allows them to acquire new ships with new weapons. While they can only use one ship for a level, the weapons are entirely different and range from homing lasers to gravity energy balls. My personal preference became the wave weapon just because of how much of the screen it could suppress. There also a challenge mode which contains 99 challenges which get progressively more difficult. Then there's survival mode and multiple difficulties on top of that.
Lastly there's music mode, which is a bit hit and miss. It adds some longevity to the game as it allows players to use their own music - the game then generates a stage based off of this. However, how it actually does it is a little confusing and some softer tracks have produced very manic results and more upbeat tracks have been quite relaxed. It adds something else fun to do but theres no real benefit from doing so.
Space Invaders Infinity Gene looks retro and it certainly it feels retro. But whether it actually feels like Space Invaders is another debate entirely. It's not a literal translation of the game's evolution but more the genre. For the most part it's fun to play through and the addition of varying weapons does add depth. Any expecting a large dose of nostalgia probably shouldn't bother because aside from the sounds, black and white visuals and recognisable enemies the rest of the game is very different. But if bullet hell games are your forte then you can't really go wrong with Space Invaders Infinity Gene.