Retro Invaders (Matra) Review | - Everygamegoing


Retro Invaders
By Matra
Spectrum 48K/128K/+2/+3

Retro Invaders

Matra Computer Animations has been releasing physical cassettes for the Spectrum for well over five years now, and it currently has a new 'range' of titles for 2018. A bit like when Firebird took some of its earlier big-box games and re-released them as £1.99 "Silver" budget titles, this new range includes some wholly new games and some that we've seen before. Retro Invaders is one that we've seen before, as it was originally paired up with a game called Gimme Bright and distributed on Matra's compilation, unsurprisingly entitled Retroinvaders Plus Gimme Bright. The two of them together cost 12 Euros back in the day, whilst the new standalone version costs 8 Euros, so were you to buy both Gimme Bright and Retro Invaders now, you'd end up paying an extra 4 Euros for the two. However, these new versions do look considerably nicer - with much more professional-looking cover art and embossed cassettes.

Retro Invaders the game is essentially a monochrome version of Gyruss, the famous arcade version of Space Invaders where the aliens emerge from a black hole in the centre of the screen. You pilot a spacecraft that can move clockwise and counterclockwise around the border of this vortex. You fire a stream of bullets at the emerging aliens and attempt to pick them off before they cover the (short) distance from the centre to the edge. Miss them and you'll have to try and avoid them. More importantly, stay out of the way of all of their bullets too.

And, well, there isn't a lot more to say than that. The playing area is squared off, with the real of the Spectrum's screen real estate housing a score, lives count and enemy count panel (plus a rather large logo "RI") but the game is so frantic that there' little time (or inclination) to refer to it. The monochrome nature of the game doesn't do it a lot of favours - particularly because the space-themed background features a large semi-digitised picture of planet Earth. When the aliens begin to appear, both them and their bullets are difficult to pick out against this same-coloured background. Gyruss had a simple black background which prevented this problem.

Retro Invaders

Still, it all handles very well with your craft being very reactive. You can quickly rotate your way out of approaching aliens or bullets, and you can fire approximately two bullets per second. I found the lag between bullet-firing tedious, frequently there seemed to be too much time for the alien to get out of the way before the bullet I had fired reached him. I don't know whether that's really a cause to complain however as the same is true in reverse.

As for sound and graphics, well, the sound is really good with spot effects plus (on the 128K version) an in-game AY toe-tapping music tune. The graphics do their job - they're nothing to write home about and they lack imagination and colour (obviously). Although I played the game for hours, I didn't encounter anything like the imagination of the attack patterns seen in Gyruss (and indeed other shooters) but, similarly, there didn't seem to be entirely wrong with the pace of the game. There's no fluxuation in speed when lots of aliens pack the screen, and some accomplished coding keeps everything running smoothly and, importantly, fairly.

The 'story mode' opener and game over screen attempt to make Retro Invaders feel a bit more 'arcadey' but, in totality, it's all kind of meh. Nothing pushes the machine or feels particularly exciting or addictive. It's just yet another arcade-space-shooty thing that the Spectrum already has hundreds of. Is it worth buying? If you want the beautiful artwork and tape, definitely. Is it better than another La Churrera platform derivative? Almost certainly. Is it going to get loaded up more than once? Probably not.

Dave E

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