Review: Titan Attacks! (PS4/PS3/PSV)

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Title: Titan Attacks!
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4/PS3/PSV Cross-Buy) (135 MB each)
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Curve Digital
Developer: Curve Studios
Original MSRP: $11.99 (US), €8.99 (EU), £8.49 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 7
Titan Attacks! is also available on Windows, Mac and Linux. It is a Cross-Buy title.
The PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

I doubt many people would even recognize the name Tomohiro Nishikado, but everyone should know the most popular creation of this Japanese video game developer, the classic shooter game Space Invaders. That title changed the entire landscape of video games and inspired the creators of Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and Solid Snake to join the industry. Space Invaders became one of the first blockbuster games and has seen countless clones and ports across almost every single gaming platform ever made.

titan-attacks-enemy-01So can this tribute by Puppygames (ported to the PlayStation consoles by Curve Studios) live up to the classic and maybe even inspire the next Shigeru Miyamoto or Hideo Kojima, or should this remain in the minds of the older gamers.

Gameplay:
A fixed camera, two dimensional shooter where you control a ship that can only move horizontally across the bottom of the screen, the aim is to destroy the descending aliens before they reach the ground. Whilst avoiding enemy fire and even asteroids, you have to time your shots to hit the invaders as they get ever closer.

With the only controls being to move left or right, shoot or the infrequent Smartbomb it can be played by almost anyone and the only difference between the systems is that the Touch Pad on the PS4 controller can be used to set off the Smartbomb. It plays great across all the consoles and feels smooth and responsive.

You earn points and money as you progress through the game, the cash is used to buy upgrades to your ship, weapons and shields, the latter of which also acts as your life bar. Each upgrade costs more and more so you have to be careful how you spend the money. You can also earn prizes in the bonus rounds, but only if you destroy enough of the enemies.

PlayStation Vita Screenshot

PlayStation Vita Screenshot

When making the original, Tomohiro Nishikado found that the processor could render the enemy ships at a faster rate the fewer there were on screen, he thankfully decided to keep it in as a gameplay mechanic. That has been kept in this game and works very well, so some of the enemies can move at an outstanding rate, meaning you have to possess an almost unparalleled shooting ability to destroy some of them, or have a bit of luck. It is a good idea to have a Smartbomb for some of the difficult levels.

titan-attacks-enemy-03I was very happy to see that this is a Cross-Buy game across all three PlayStation consoles and each one looks and plays exactly the same. The game suits each system and I couldn’t decide which I preferred playing it on. They share a trophy set which isn’t too difficult to complete but sadly has no Platinum.

It has online leaderboards, with the option to view where you rank amongst your friends but sadly nothing else. You can’t see a level breakdown or any other social interactions to help with score chasing, which is a disappointment. With 100 levels spanning 5 unique worlds there is enough to keep you going and is great for either a quick blast or a challenging race to the end.

Visuals:
Titan Attacks! is set in a pixelated world with bright contrasting colors and a clean vibrant feel. At its core this game retains the classic feel of the original, which is no mean feat as that came out over three and a half decades ago. Now this tribute has luscious explosions and even the occasional parachuting alien when you only clip the enemy ship.

The pixelated alien graphic has become somewhat of an icon for video games over the years and is what people remember not just about Space Invaders but retro gaming in general. It has been perfectly captured here, almost as if retro and current graphics have been combined. It looks great on all three PlayStation systems and I find it hard to see a difference. The developers even had the sense to include two horizontal borders forcing a smaller play area, which I forget is even there after a few seconds.

Audio:
The audio in Space Invaders was simplistic and yet revolutionary in the gaming industry. A continuous four-note loop and sound effects that related to player actions were all new. Titan Attacks! still has a simple musical loop which varies from one level to the next and subtly transitions into a relaxed tune between levels whilst you’re browsing the shop. Many won’t even notice the similarities between the two games but it works well and adds to the retro feel.

None of the above will be apparent in the later levels when the alien swarm and firepower is almost a constant barrage. With missiles, lasers and gunfire littering the air it adds to the insanity the further you progress. An occasional alien cry can be heard if you shoot the helpless parachuting enemy, apart from that there isn’t much else to hear.

When the missiles launch it has the expected sound effect which can become quite annoying to some people, I only noticed it when the wife asked me to stop firing ‘that thing’ but sadly all the guns shoot at once, you don’t get to pick. My only option was to turn the sound effects down.

titan-attacks-enemy-02Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
A fun and easy game to get into that soon becomes a frantic delight. It has all the fun of the classic Space Invaders while adding just enough style and charm to make it feel fresh and new. Cross-Buy is a welcome bonus as I could easily see myself playing this at home and on the go. It would have been nice to have a few score chasing options but at its core, Titan Attacks! is what gaming is all about, fun.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4 or the Vita’s built in screen capture feature. 

Video was obtained using the SHAREfactory app on the PlayStation 4 and also edited with specialized PC software.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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