Hyperspace Invaders II: Pixel Edition is a new successor to Hyperspace Invaders II, and as the name suggests it’s got pixel art this time. Bright pixel art, fast music, difficult gameplay, and its location set firmly in the ninth circle of bullet hell—it’s essentially the shoot-em-up (or shmup) that all shmups strive to be more like. It’s made by a company called Entity Medialab, of which there is little information. Its publishing, PR, Greenlight, and Steam listings all appear to be handled by its publisher, Black Shell Media, a marketing firm specializing in indie games.
Before the praise begins, let’s get to the bad news. Hyperspace Invaders would’ve benefited greatly from some quality assurance. Weird bugs occur in places the average player would never expect them to. Tabbing out of the game will sometimes cause the window to disappear entirely, and even using Process Hacker to restore it won’t work. Screenshots taken of the game appear to be entirely white, which would sure be a massive loss for some sort of game reviewer who takes dozens of them for use in their reviews. Finally, progress seems to wipe randomly after launching the game, though this could potentially be an arcade-like design choice that I’m too dumb to figure out.
Now for praise. It turns your brain to mush and your eyeballs into smoldering craters of crispy bacon. Playing Hyperspace Invaders in a dark room can apparently even create optical illusions outside of your monitor which, along with the crazy electronic music, turns the game into the kind of experience that is often reserved for techno concerts.
The soundtrack is phenomenal and is the kind of music that makes you subconsciously bob your head to the beat before going crazy and tricking you into snapping your neck in half. It complements and integrates into the gameplay, creating a rhythm in the movement of everything on the screen that makes you feel like you’re just along for the ride.
The rhythm-based gameplay truly is hardcore. Hyperspace Invaders is one of those games that doesn’t ease you into the madness pool but throws you in and tells you to swim. Then it lights the pool on fire. The first level is hectic, and the second is chaotic. The further you progress, the more you begin to pray to the Cthulhu and the elder gods for their relative sanity.
It turns from fast paced rave into a neon cataclysm. The faster and crazier it gets the more you simply become a part of the process; an audience to insanity rather than one who partakes in it. While playing Hyperspace Invaders, be sure to sit back from the monitor and take breaks every so often, as not doing so probably could lead to headaches, nausea, and succumbing to madness and becoming a demon god.
Comparisons aside, Hyperspace Invaders gives you what you might expect from a shoot-em-up. Move from side to side and shoot people. For every ship you kill you collect power, which you can use by firing to quickly destroy groups of enemies and projectiles. Some enemies drop powerups of the standard types, like side shooting. It doesn’t do anything with the core gameplay that hasn’t been in a dozen games of the same genre already. It’s the package that is so enticing, not the individual mechanics.
As for whether or not it’s worth it, Hyperspace Invaders II: Pixel Edition is $5. In order to get a similar experience without purchasing it, you would need to risk a felony. If you have $5 to spare and you’re a fan of shoot-em-ups, it’s definitely worth it. If you’re a bit more frugal, well the Steam winter sale isn’t that far off.
All things considered, Hyperspace Invaders II: Pixel Edition is a pretty great shmup. It does what it does well, and it does things to my brain that I’m a big fan of. It’s got things it can improve on and some bugs it can fix, but it’s solid for what it is. Right now, it’s still definitely worth buying.
Hyperspace Invaders II: Pixel Edition is a great shoot-em-up with a killer soundtrack and great art that draws you in and creates a unique and fun experience.