Space Invaders

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Strategy Guide

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SPACE INVADERS STRATEGY GUIDE V1.0 [2000-03-19]
Kirk Israel <kisrael@alienbill.com>

--INTRO--
It's the Arcade Hit of 1978 updated for the turn of the millennium. 
This guide was written based on the N64 version; I assume other 
versions are similar (hopefully with a better pre and post game story
than the slideshow the N64 provides.)

--PLUG--
Check out my website, http://www.alienbill.com , especially
if you're interested in "Classic" Video Games and new retrogames
for Windows.

--HISTORICAL NOTE--
Space Invaders was one of the first games to *really* make a splash in 
American pop culture. Not until PacMan would a game grab the imaginations
of gamers and non-gamers alike. The marching aliens with their hypnotic 
heartbeat soundtrack left an indelible imprint on the world.

--BASICS--
This game captures and extends the feel of the original. However,  the 
bosses in the game pay homage to the great 2D action of the NES area, with
fan-spread shots and other trappings of the 8bit days. Over all, it's not
too difficult. In particular, if you use the save system, (which on the 
N64 at least seems geared to discourage frequent saves by making it a 
slow process,) you can get through the entire thing, even if you're not 
such an experienced gamer. I still think the game has reasonable replay
value, since clearing the boards has an almost Tetris-like feel of 
cleaning up the place.

One of the best innovations is the clever powerup system. Hitting 4 aliens 
of the same type in a row gives you a weapon specific to that alien type.  
Each powerup has a general directional pattern, and with clever planning you 
can chain powerups on certain boards, using the destructive force of one to 
hit 4 aliens in a row and recharge the powerup.  (One obvious technique is 
not to use a powerup near the end of a level, instead waiting until you have
what the military calls "a target rich environment". For some reason, they 
disable your powerup before each level boss, which I thought was a bit cheap.)

There are other powerups available from the motherships that float across 
the sky (in the original game, huge bonuses were awarded based on exact 
number of shots fired before hitting the saucers... I'm not sure if that 
detail got carried over into this makeover.) These saucers provide 4 
possible charges:
    SHIELDS: the most useful and thankfully, most frequent powerup lets you 
             take a bullet without losing a life.
DOUBLE SHOT: Another highly useful and fairly frequent powerup, this lets 
             you have two shots in the air at one time. This is highly 
             valuable, especially on some of the boss levels.
   TIMESTOP: Freezes all the enemies for a short time. Not tremendously 
             useful except when the aliens are about to land.
 MAX ENERGY: Gives you a weapon powerup.  Generally not a big help, but
             you can pick what weapon you get by shooting a single invader
             of the appropriate type immediately before charging up.

Bonus lives are awarded every 50K points. (A good reason to keep UFO 
hunting, even if you have the shields and double shot) Also, there's 
usually a single extra life to be awarded in the saucer bonus stage. 

Also on your side on many boards are bunkers that you can hide behind. 
As they get more damaged they get darker and redder, allowing you to 
guess how long they'll be around at a glance. Invaders generally die when 
they hit these, which is very useful to prevent them from reaching the 
ground and destroying you! Also, if you fire into the bottom of these 
they are pushed upwards, though they take a bit of damage in the process.  
Still sometimes you can safely get rid of a lone alien by pushing a bunker
up into its path.


--THE PLANETS--
PLANET: Pluto
  The world of ice is where your battle begins.
ENEMY: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow
  Pluto introduces the 4 basic alien types. Once you master the powerup 
  weapons, you can clear boards 2,3, and 4 using only the special weapons!
POWERUP: Various
  Vertical Blast (Red)
  Horizontal Left (Blue)
  Horizontal Right (Green)
  Diagonal Blast (Yellow)
  These weapons are the ones that you'll see on every planet.  The 
  Horizontal blasts are the most useful, since it's pretty easy to do what
  the Vertical Blast does with the regular gun, and the Diagonal Blast can
  be hard to aim.
BOSS: Crush Boss
  This guy is surprisingly tough for a first boss. He looks like a giant 
  brine shrimp crossed with a massive stapler, but with jet engines.  He
  has three attacks.  For the first phase, you need to avoid being under
  him when he drops- he flips before dropping, so get your shots in while
  you can.  After he zooms towards the screen, he'll move on to his second
  attack phase, where he follows his ground smash with a sweeping movement- 
  and you're his dustpan if you don't scoot all the way to the side in 
  time- get in your shots as he retreats back to the top of the screen.  
  Finally, he'll zoom to the screen again and begin his Fox series 
 "When Staplers Attack". It's pretty easy to move under him as he jumps 
  over you, getting one or two shots in each time, the trick being to move
  the opposite direction of his jump once your under him.


PLANET: Neptune
  This rock is named for the God of the oceans, and is actually kind of 
  pretty.
ENEMY: Switcher
  This guy is slightly annoying. He takes two shots to kill, and drops 
  big bombs. Unlike some of the other enemy shots, these bombs can be 
  destroyed but they take two hits.
POWERUP: Swarm Missiles
  A decent attack weapon. The cool thing is they target whatever enemy 
  type is most numerous on the screen. If it's a mix then your not going
  to get many missiles, but it's a great way to clear out a single color.
BOSS: Shell Boss
  Compared to the Pluto Boss, this guy isn't too bad. At first his
  midsection is shielded, so you need to pluck his wings. Once his wings
  are gone so is his belly shield, and he fires more pellets at you.  
  These pellets are invulnerable to your fire, so you have no choice but
  to dodge (also, they act as a defense for the bug, protecting it from
  your Tank's shots.)  As his health nears zero, he'll pause for a moment,
  and then come down STRAIGHT at you- make sure you're not under him.  
  A few more shots, a few more kamikaze attacks by him, and you should 
  be out of here.

PLANET: Uranus
  Heh heh heh heh heh- "Uranus"
ENEMY: Blocker
  This guy has to be one of the lamest enemies in the game. You shoot him,
  and with his dying breath he sends out to flaming shields for his alien
  brethren to the right and left.  Big deal!
POWERUP: Laser Blaster
 *Now* we're talking. This fat lightsaber wannabe is probably the best
  weapon in the game. Nothing like watching that rain of charred alien
  bits  come raining down on your tank... it only lasts a short while,
  so be use it wisely.
BOSS: Rotator Boss
  This guy is a little difficult, but overall it's not too bad.  For the
  first phase, just dodge and return fire.  Eventually he'll rotate 180
  and start firing in an even spread.  Put yourself where you see the 
  bullets won't hit in their fan pattern. Every once in a while he'll 
  fire a large charged shot at you (with a kind of curious non-sci-fi 
  sound effect). He's aiming right where you are, so get moving- it's not 
  too hard to dodge as long as you're not standing still.


PLANET: Saturn
  I don't see any rings here, just some kind of "Space Navy" looking base.
ENEMY: Angler
  These guys are dangerous. Their bullets go diagonally- plus they 
  ricochet off of the sides of the screen, so you can't let your guard 
  down.  Visually they're easy to confuse with the normal yellows, so look
  twice when going for a powerup. A serious danger when moving fast at the 
  end of a level, so kill them early and often.
POWERUP: Boomerang
  Kind of a mediocre weapon, it swings around in a big circle.
BOSS:  Circle Boss
  This Circle Jerk is an interesting boss.  Here's the secret: when the 
  two side weapons are gone, the center section attacks with a typical 
  fan pattern, and it's tough to dodge. On the other hand, when the side 
  weapons are still around his 'center' attack is recharging his own 
  health- faster than you can blast it away with a single gun.  So there 
  are two different strategies to follow, one for when you have the double 
  shot, one for when you don't. In both cases, the main threat to your 
  well being is the seeker missiles the left weapon launches. Your best 
  bet is defensive fire, shoot the missiles as they are being launched, and 
  then work on destroying the launcher. Once that's done, if you have the 
  double shot, blast away the center section until it explodes and all 
  you're left with is the laser gun, which is pretty easy to avoid and 
  destroy. If you only have the normal gun, you'll probably need to bite 
  the bullet and destroy the laser gun first, but only after you've done 
  some damage to the center section. Then the Circle Boss will stop 
  recharging and focus on killing you.  Act defensively and you can make 
  it through with the normal gun, but it's much easier if you manage to 
  keep the double shot.

PLANET: Jupiter
  A rocky non-red Jupiter? You must be on one of the moons...
ENEMY: Freezer
  At first this guy seems like a badass as he swoops down with his 
  little freezy ray, but the fact that he takes a long break between 
  shots provides your chance to nail him. Still, you may want to kill 
  him whenever he's the bottommost enemy in a column, since that's the 
  only time he'll come on down.
POWERUP: Acid Cloud
  With one of the oddest sound effects in the game (kind of like a windup 
  toy), this makes a pretty effective weapon.
BOSS: Turret Boss
  Turret Boss?  Anyway, this time it's the bad guy who has the defensive 
  bunkers- and you'll be spending most of this level providing the Patriot 
  Missiles to this Boss' SCUDS.  You'll need to blast away at least two of 
  the bunkers to make any headway. Once you finally manage to hit the 
  enemy instead of the bunkers and its missiles, it dies pretty quickly.

PLANET: Mars
  This planet is named after the "Bringer of War", appropriately enough.
ENEMY: Burster
  This ain't pretty- the four bullets they release on death can be a pain. 
  Luckily, they CAN be shot down, so if you're trapped, try to shoot 
  yourself some breathing room. Their red spikey 'normal' bullets are 
  annoying because they're so slow, but they can be shot down too.
POWERUP: Sine Wave Missiles
  Pretty good for nailing most of an alien column or three.
BOSS: Pulse Boss
  This threesome is a bit of a lightweight. When all three platforms are 
  on the screen, each follows a simple up and down pattern with no 
  rotation. It's easiest to pick one side and stay there, since if you're 
  directly under a platform on the side you only have to worry about the 
  laser blasts from the center platform. When you destroy one platform, 
  the remaining two start swinging like highly controlled churchbells. 
  Finally, the last platform starts firing wildly, and is the toughest 
  part of this Boss (which isn't saying much- if you have the double shot 
  this should be a quick victory.)

PLANET: Venus
  Try not to suffer from Venus Envy as you skip over the Earth and fight 
  on this closer-to-the-sun planet.
ENEMY:  Kamikaze
  These guys are dangerous- shoot them and the 'corpse' rushed down at 
  you- however, you can shoot the body and save your skin- double shot 
  can be a big help, so fire at these guys twice to protect yourself. 
  Also, shooting the alien and the falling body counts as two on your 
  powerup meter, plus using the kamikaze powerup always hits both the 
  alien and the body- that means once you get one kamikaze powerup, it's 
  very simple to get another wherever you have two kamikazes in the same 
  column.
POWERUP: Kamikaze Tank
  This weapon is second in coolness only to that fat laser beam. At first 
  it seems like just another Vertical Blast, but it's much faster and 
  therefore easier to wipe out an entire column. You can kind of steer on 
  the way down, taking out an extra row, but be careful: it is possible to 
  steer yourself into an alien bolt.  
BOSS: Slither Boss
  I love it! In an obvious homage to Centipede, this giant bug soars 
  around the screen. He's not too bad. And he's color coded; just like 
  your defensive bunkers, the segments turn darker and more red the more 
  they are hit.  However, when a section is "maxed out" with damage, 
  bullets then pass through it. All in all an easy victory before the 
  final homestand.

PLANET: Earth
  You're fighting for the home team. (does anyone know what the female 
  voice is saying, or even what language?)
ENEMY: Splitter
  This enemies spit out smaller enemies when hit, filling every vacant 
  adjacent spot. One obvious strategy is trying to kill them when their 
  crowded with aliens to all sides, which means less of the 'children' 
  will have space to be produced.
POWERUP: Pyramid Blast
  Pretty dull area effect weapon. Like with the Kamikazes, the Splitters 
  death provide more target opportunities, so sometimes you can chain 
  powerups.
BOSS: Golem
  Wow, neat. This is the guy from the side cabinet art of the original 
  arcade machines. Unlike the other bosses, this guy tends to march across 
  the screen, just like the non-boss invaders. NOTE: He won't step on you 
  as he marches across, it's safe to be under him; in fact it's one of the 
  best times to launch a missile right into his eyes, which seem to be the 
  only vulnerable part.  There's no particular strategy for this final boss, 
  just learn the patterns of his shots and get out of the way.  You'll 
  probably lose a few lives, so hopefully you've built up a stockpile. 
 (Technical Note: the big missiles he throws at you are some of the best 
  trackers of the game. If he throws one right after you've died and 
  before your new ship appears, the missile veers off to the right, as if 
  your soul was heading towards heaven right off screen. Go figure.)

--FINALLY--
Once you're through the game, "Classic" mode will be unlocked. It's 
hidden on the front menu, on the same submenu as 1 player/2 player. It's
the original game in all its Arcade glory, well, sort of.  I believe the 
bunkers showed damage in the original, for starters. Still, it gives 
you a taste of the game that "started it all" (and caused a coin shortage
in Japan!)


Copyright 2000 By Kirk Israel <kisrael@alienbill.com>.
Not to be posted, published, or modified without explicit permission.



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