Remember when video games were mainly played in those exciting, low-lit places called arcades, where quarters were precious extra lives and friends would cheer you on when you were close to beating high scores? For those of you who keep a special place in your heart for that golden age of gaming, developer Puppy Games’ newest game, Titan Attacks!, will bring back a wave of nostalgia that harkens back to those days. Titan Attacks! takes all the very best elements of the classic arcade game Space Invaders, updates the visuals, adds some upgradability, and sends you on a mission to fight off pesky alien invaders from Earth, the Moon, and even other planets in the Solar System. While Titan Attacks! does not push the envelope forward for novel gameplay or amazing CGI cutscenes, it does show that there is something about those classic arcade games that draws gamers to play them.
Titan Attacks! is immediately fun in that, even if you have never played a game in your life, you can pick up a controller and start shooting aliens out of the sky. And everyone likes to shoot aliens. There are no obscure, difficult-to-master button combinations and no intricate storylines to keep up with, just instant gratification as you start moving and shooting. In fact, the most difficult part of the game is figuring out whether to upgrade your ship’s weapons or defenses with the money you accumulate over time. Of course, better upgrades cost more money, and so being miserly early on will help out in the long run as more and more enemies pile onto the screen.
The updated graphics are simple, but give the game a much more modern aesthetic compared to Space Invaders, but they still look good no matter what system you’re playing on (Titan Attacks! is available as a cross-buy for PS3, PS4, and PS Vita systems). As you progress through each of the five levels (Earth, the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and Titan), you’ll get different backgrounds letting you know how far you’ve progressed. Each level is split into 20 waves of attackers, and at the end of each level, you will come to a boss battle that is a little more challenging than that level’s previous waves of invaders. Any time you run out of shields and succumb to your attackers, you will be forced to start back at the beginning of that world, even if you were on, say, the 19th wave. So it’s always a good idea to top off your shields after each wave during the upgrade cycle before buying something new. The game rewards both skill as well as a little bit of luck: occasionally an attacker will either come crashing to the surface or its pilot will eject itself from a destroyed ship, and you can shoot down wreckage or capture ejected pilots for more money. Be careful with escaped pilots though! If you don’t shoot or capture it, escaped aliens will hurt your cash reserves, hurting your chances for that sweet upgrade before the next wave.
Overall the game is fun, but simplistic. It’s much faster-paced than its 1978 inspiration, and if you play strategically with your upgrades you will hardly bat an eye as cutting through swaths of enemies in the later stages. So depending on your shooting and money-hoarding skill levels, you can conceivably finish off the game in the span of a handful of hours. For anyone less than the most hardcore of trophy hunters out there, there’s little else that’s new to do once you’ve beaten it. That’s the biggest downfall in arcade-style games nowadays: once you’ve beaten it, there’s little draw to keep playing, trying to be the best player in town.
With all that said, that isn’t meant to say you shouldn’t buy it; it’s a great pick-me-up game to play when you have a little time to shoot some things, but don’t have the time to be absorbed into a story-heavy game. If you want to waste some time and have fun doing it, Titan Attacks! is a great way to do it, and with global leaderboards you can always strive to do just a little better than your last run, maybe beat out a few others for a higher position on the scoreboard. Titan Attacks! is available through the PS Store for $11.99. For those of you who don’t have a console, you can also get it for PC, Mac, and Linux either directly through the developer’s website or on Steam for just under 10 bucks.