Space Invaders is an arcade classic and many games have taken a shine to the formula. The latest is Beat Invaders, taking the old school arcade action and putting a Synthwave spin on it. The changes run deeper than the aesthetics though – this is a fantastic reimagining.
Your ship only moves left or right in the bottom of the screen. You’ll be able to shoot upwards with your initial weapon and you sit behind 4 convoys you need to protect. If all four convoys explode through repeated hits from enemies or you lose your lives – it is game over. Your convoys can also receive friendly fire so you must make sure you don’t take yourself out the game too! Enemies shuffle down from the top of the screen, zig zagging as they go. The less enemies that remain, the faster the enemies start to go but they do follow the vague BPM of the songs playing in the background. They don’t move directly to the beat but it does feel well timed.
Enemies come in waves and as enemies die, some of them will rain down coins for you to try and collect. A giant hauler ship also flies across the top of the screen at times which also rains coins when you hit it. After each wave, three randomised upgrades are available to buy for your ship. These might be weapon improvements, life replenishments, additional weapons or movement speed. There is also a super move which shoots out lasers which can be upgraded too. You can choose to buy any or all of these upgrades if you have the cash or skip them and see what comes later. This RNG of upgrades works well as a run is never too crazily stilted as the levels are laid out in very similar ways. Nothing feels too hard or tricky.
Eventually you’ll die though and your score will go onto a local and online leaderboard. There is a roguelite overhaul area where you can also unlock permanent upgrades too. This includes new weapons, move lives, shields or attacks for your convoys and quicker cooldowns for weapons. This means every play could mean you get further in the game and better scores. With three difficulty modes (each with different soundtracks as the BPM and mood match the game intensity) at hand, there’s plenty to dive into. I’d have liked a couple more modes, such as a 3 or 5 minute high score challenge for example as Beat Invaders really suits that kind of challenge. What is here, is very moreish though.
What I haven’t conveyed is that £3.99, you get one of the most cohesive arcade experiences I’ve played in a while. The graphics are smooth and neon clad. The soundtrack is fantastic and full of many Bandcamp Synthwave names. The shooting feels on point. The enemies and difficulty curve notch up slowly but surely with challenge and everything feels effortlessly smooth and “together”. You don’t get this synergy in games often but Beat Invaders has just that. It is why its one of my favourite surprises of the last couple of years and also why I’d recommend it to any gamer interested in some arcade action. These gems are why I run my website and YouTube channel – this needs more love.
(Switch version coming soon as of March 2022).
A fantastic revamp of the Space Invaders formula that feels fresh, fun and engrossing. One of the best surprises I've played in the last few years.
Synthwave visual design and superb soundtrack.
Upgrade and progression systems work fantastically.
Online and local leaderboards keep you competitive.
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