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The key to making retro games work – as Space Invaders Extreme 2 and its predecessor realise – is to revel in nostalgia, while at the same time bringing the gameplay up to more modern standards. As with the first title, Extreme 2 is a chunky pixel soup made from equal parts Space Invaders and Rez; it’s half shoot-’em-up and half rhythm game, making the (obvious, when you think about it) connection between the two.
To a shifting background of trippy imagery and a pulsing techno soundtrack, you have to amass as many points as possible – or, in Time Attack mode, finish as quickly as you can. Its systems can be a bit overwhelming and hard to decipher at first, but once you get to grips with them you’ll find yourself entering a Zen-like state when playing. Extreme 2’s additions are barely perceptible, solidifying the DS as the game’s true home (through clever use of both screens) rather than majorly revamping the formula.
Bonus rounds previously transported you to a separate location, but they now play out on the top screen while the regular action continues on the lower one. This may sound troublesome but, unlike in The World Ends With You, multi-tasking is pretty hassle-free here. Your objectives in Bonus are always to shoot something or other, and most of these targets will be taken care of with stray shots from the touch screen.
You’ll actually find that you’re always doing two things at once. The upper screen is usually taken up with the new Bingo system, which keeps track of where you kill enemies on the playing field and flags up corresponding squares on a grid. Get three like-colored squares in a row and you’ll enter Bingo mode for big points. It’s confusing as hell, but succeeds in making the game (optionally) more frantic, giving skilled shmup fans more chances to show off.
For more casual fans of the original Extreme there might not be enough new content here to warrant buying what’s essentially the same again, but hardcore score-chasers will relish the chance to test their reflexes in a deeper, more demanding game.
Import score: 9
Apr 23, 2009