A Space Invaders Appreciation Post: Sights & Sounds Saluting the Arcade Classic on Its 45th Anniversary
The classic arcade video game Space Invaders, developed by Tomohiro Nishikado, began its conquest of Earth’s pop culture when it landed in Japan with a June 16, 1978, release by Taito. That was followed with its arrival on North American shores in November of that year, distributed by Midway, and pretty quickly the world was under the control of this insanely popular, addictive and influential game.
One of the earliest shoot ’em up video games, Space Invaders had a big impact on the culture as a whole, and certainly within the video game industry. Soon there were clones of the game, some better than others, as well as arcade games that made interesting tweaks on the premise and became classics in their own rights, like Galaga, and Space Invaders adaptations and clones/ripoffs for home consoles and personal computers.
The game has continued to be popular among generations old and new 45 years after its release, even into the era of much more sophisticated games and graphics. All kinds of versions of Space Invaders can be found on emulators and in app stores; it can be played on a desktop, tablet or smartphone; you can find its logos and its cute little alien invader graphics on T-shirts and other apparel; and it has been referenced in other pop culture well into the 21st century.
— タイトー公式 (@TAITO) June 15, 2023
To celebrate nearly a half-century of Space Invaders, we’re dropping a few sights and sounds on you representing various aspects of the game itself, as well as its impact on the larger popular culture.
- Pictured here: One of the most anxiety-inducing situations in video game history:
- Some gameplay from the original Space Invaders arcade game:
- The relentless, throbbing sound from the game that speeds up as the invaders continue to approach lower and lower, the sound almost mimicking your heartbeat as the intensity of the game increases:
- A couple of weird novelty songs about Space Invaders. As far as video game novelty songs go, they certainly weren’t as popular as the later Buckner & Garcia Pac-Man-themed tune “Pac-Man Fever,” but they are catchy enough, with a disco beat accompanied from sounds of the game:
- Gameplay from Space Invaders Part II (aka Space Invaders Deluxe, or Deluxe Space Invaders), the 1979 Space Invaders sequel:
- Box art for the 1980 adaptation of Space Invaders for the Atari Video Computer System (2600). The hugely popular game was a “killer app” for the 2600, making that home console a must-have (and it’s a really fun game, on top of it, one of the better VCS versions of an arcade game and still highly playable, especially with 112 game variations).
- Here’s some of that Atari 2600 Space Invaders gameplay:
- A page from the Atari 2600 Space Invaders manual breaking down the 112 game variations:
- 1980 commercial for Atari’s Space Invaders:
- Find out who the Space Invaders champion of the Midlands is in this video of the championship round in a U.K. Atari Space Invaders competition:
- I always enjoyed Sneakers, a 1981 Space Invaders-type game for the Apple II computer. It had interesting-looking aliens moving in challenging ways, a nice tweak on the original Invaders concept:
- Atari may have had the home video system adaptation rights for Space Invaders, but in 1981, rival console Intellivision developed Space Armada, a game with a similar concept that was fun, as well:
- Man, I always wished I had that sweet Space Invaders T-shirt that Robert MacNaughton wore in E.T. (1982)
- Cover of a Japanese flyer for the 1985 arcade game Return of the Invaders:
- As I got different video game consoles over the years, I always picked up their version of Space Invaders if one was available. This one, Space Invaders ’91 for the Sega Genesis, was especially fun:
- In a segment within the “Anthology of Interest II” episode of Futurama that aired in 2002, Earth is faced with a familiar-looking video game-like threat in the form of “invaders … possibly from space”:
- When I got an original PlayStation in the late ’90s, I of course had to track down this version of Space Invaders, put out by Activision:
Finally, if you’ve got over an hour to spare, here is a nice rundown of many Space Invaders variations (only ones that have maintained the game’s initial premise, and not altered the gameplay too dramatically: