Forty years ago, Taito released a game that not only turned the arcade business on its head, it would mark a cultural turning point for entertainment in general – Space Invaders. Many consider this to be the official beginning of the ‘Golden Age’ of video games but whether or not you agree with that, one cannot dismiss the impact that this game had.
Space Invaders was not Taito’s first ‘rodeo’ so to speak – they had been creating games since Elepong but nothing they created up to this point would have the same impact as SI would. Designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, you can read some history of how he developed the original game here at Forbes. Space Invaders itself became a phenomenon that was cloned ad nauseum itself, marked by numerous bootlegs among arcades and variations on home consoles. It was the first “killer app” for home consoles, driving sales of the Atari 2600 into the millions.
Space Invaders enjoyed several sequels at the arcade: Space Invaders Part II; Return Of The Invaders; Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV/Super Space Invaders ’91; Space Invaders DX; Space Invaders ’95 – The Attack Of The Lunar Loonies/Akkanvader; Space Invaders Anniversary and most recently Space Invaders Frenzy.
Fortunately, Taito is still around to celebrate and they are doing so with style in Japan starting this weekend. The video directly above shows off several of their own SI variations; If SI merchandise is your thing then Taito has it available in spades. For those who really want to celebrate, then one would want to find their way to the Laguna Ten Bosch resort in Gamagori, Japan (SouthWest-ish from Tokyo by a little ways). Much of that SI merchandise will be available for sale at the resort but if you want to play, they have setup a giant attraction called Space Invaders Gigamax. This is a special version of the SI concept projected onto the side of a building and supports up to ten players. It’s 500 yen a pop and will run through July but if you are fortunate enough to be able to visit Laguna Ten Bosch today (the 16th in Japan), Mr. Tomohiro Nishikado himself is there to play this game with customers. By this trailer, Gigamax is a bit of a ‘frenzy’ itself…it would be cool if Taito released an ultra-wide screen arcade version of this one (make something like an upright Dariusburst cab for four or five players 😛 ). You can also read more about this project at the official page (in Japanese).
Happy birthday Space Invaders!