Space Invaders signified the birth of the arcade era. It marked the defining moment when the most of us realized that video gaming was going to be more than a short term fad, but a huge phenomenon that was going to light the world on fire. Super Crossfire has its feet firmly planted in the roots of that groundbreaking classic and the result is a really great blast from the past with a modern twist.
Super Crossfire Gameplay
Super Crossfire is a hybrid of modern power-up based shooter and the old school side-to-side march-em-ups of yesterday. What I mean is that while Radian Games has worked hard to maintain a retro feel, the mechanics of the game are very modern and are well implemented. The main innovation in Super Crossfire is the warp capability which makes your ship jump from the bottom of the screen to the top allowing you to attack the invaders where they are weakest. This is not just a gimmick, it has been made into an integral part of gameplay. There are many enemies who fire very quickly making it hard to get a shot in without taking damage. But good use of the warp mechanic allows for some strategic manoeuvres to limit damage and destroy the enemy. After a while this becomes second nature and you can effortlessly zip from top to bottom picking off invaders like crazy.
Warping is not the only trick Super Crossfire packs up its sleeve: There are 10 different types of upgrades to choose from. Everything from ship armor to weapon power and spread can be improved, modified, and shifted around using a point-based unlocking system. This system adds a lot to the strategy, and I constantly found myself second-guessing whether I should have went for more shielding or a faster firing rate. There is no one right way to upgrade, so the freedom allows you to adapt your ship to your play-style. Finally there are unlocks, which are permanent upgrades and apply to your ship and the game. Some increase the amount of victory points given, or give a bonus for completing a level without dying, or add an extra shot coming from your main guns. My personal favorite is “Warp Wipe”, which destroy enemy fire when you warp — this is great for getting out of tight situations.
Controls are well implemented, unlike many iPad to Mac ports. The gamepad support for the Xbox360 controller is excellent, giving that “just right” feel. Keyboard and mouse controls are similarly well implemented: I was able to blast my way through wave after wave without having to fight for control of the ship. Usually side to side shooters are a bit sloppy with mice, but Super Crossfire does a great job there. I still greatly prefer the gamepad, but it is nice to know that the controller-impaired can enjoy the game too.
The game is fairly large, about 150 waves. There is a wide variety of enemies. Some have shields that will only go down if you destroy the invaders next to them. Some shoot beams of light down below making it difficult to pick them off, some are only vulnerable from behind, requiring a quick warp to the other side to sneak off a couple shots before they turn around. Some are just huge brutes that can take a fantastic beating before going down. There are 19 different enemy types, all a bit different from one another. It sounds like a small amount for so many levels, but different combinations of enemies together can make life really difficult at times.
The graphics are that neon-retro style that is so vogue these days, a look I generally enjoy. This game is no exception, but after a few levels I could not help but notice that there is very little to no animation going on in the invaders: they just move from side to side without any articulation. Things are hectic enough that it is not that big of a deal, but an interesting oversight considering the high over-all production values of the game. The sound is excellent as far as the shooting and explosions go, it has that bleepy-bloppy 80’s arcade sound that fits in perfectly with the look and feel of the game. The music is a bit distracting. It sounds like something from the C-64 or Amiga demo scene but I liked it, it just does not fit quite as well as everything else.
Super Crossfire sets out to take the core gameplay of the classic Space Invaders and update it to modern tastes without throwing away the nostalgia of the 80’s and 90’s arcade scene. While it is probably not going to win over someone who hates top-down shooters it is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a hectic, challenging shooter or who just wants to relive a piece of their mis-spent youth without buying an old console. It’s a solid game. Recommended.
Description: Space Invaders Taken to a Whole New Level
Pros: Great game mechanics, attractive graphics, excellent gamepad support.
Cons: Lack of animated characters, mildly frustrating progression system.