8-Bit Invaders! Review

You can almost feel the eerie UFO Sci-Fi 1960s vibe coming through the screen with the blocky 8 Bit Graphics as you play 8 Bit Invaders! on the Playstation. This seems to be intentional in both terms of the look of the game and also the RTS genre it is trying to emulate. Petroglyph seems to be pushing out various iterations of the 8 Bit series quite recently, with 8 Bit Hordes being another similar title I’ve looked at and it benefits and suffers from the same game play and mechanics as its sister title.

Real Time Strategy games are either going to be your thing or not, they are a genre that have a huge fanbase in both terms of current titles and old time classics, and Petroglyph have settled for making 8 Bit Invaders more of an accessible venture than most.

Faced with a choice of modes to begin with, from an ongoing campaign to a simple jump in a skirmish option, Invaders! attempts to provide an online multiplayer mode and a raft of various challenges to keep the longevity to a maximum, while giving a roster of characters to keep the game looking fresh while you play. There are homages to certain tabletop skirmish games, all designed to delighted the player with a range of garish colours and differing abilities.

Gameplay as stated above is designed to be easy to jump in and starting conquesting as quickly as you can. As expected with any RTS, resource and building are key if you want to win, and both are accessed by a simple press of the R1 or L1 buttons which will bring up either the unit or building wheel. Buildings are placed based on land size required and then will go through a normal production time window before they appear. Units on the other hand are directly assigned to buttons when you instruct them to be built. Building bigger buildings allows you to unlock even better units and buildings as you would come to expect for any game of this genre. Both the buildings and characters ooze charm and add a real sense of fun to the proceedings.

Everything apart from the resource gathering units are controlled in this manner and it allows you to gain some control over your armies, though until you’ve played a few games, like me, you’ll just assign troops to buttons in some kind of round robin manner to make sure that they are evenly spread. It kind of works but in later levels, you’ll be sufficiently punished for just loading up with any old soldier if you expect to take down the opposition. There is a clear rock paper scissors kind of situation going on here, and it will take extended plays to fully understand the meta of what is going on, even if sometimes you get the feeling the game doesn’t want you to.

8 Bit Invaders! is a difficult game to play. You feel it has been ported over from PC without a real regard for how the PlayStation controller would handle things or where the player would sit when they were playing the game. The selection wheel for both buildings and units is finicky at best, and you wish you were playing with a simpler grid formation than a wheel, and the text explanation for each of the units is pretty much unreadable as it has to be small enough to fit inside the decision wheel for both the units and the buildings. This is replicated  throughout the presentation of the entire game, and so you kind of give up in trying to learn the real intricacies of everything on offer here. The tech tree is presented like you should already know everything instead of being a source for information and learning.

RTS rely on the ability to twitch play and react to a given situation, and while you can switch to various parts of the map fairly easily, I couldn’t find an easy way to zoom out of the map so I could get my bearings to where the enemies are. I couldn’t find it anywhere in the instructions, so I guess it simply isn’t there, which meant I spent too many times lost out in the wilderness trying to see where the threat could potentially come from.

And what a threat it is, for even if you are starting the game on the easiest difficulty, you get the sense the opposing team AI is given a huge leg up over you before you even have time to start building units that you would hope would be able to fight back.

All this is extremely frustrating, because 8 Bit Invaders! is a game I found myself returning to, just to give it one more chance. It is a fun ride on occasion, but there are so many frustrations over what appears to be a lazy port, with very little thought into the user interface and what a console player is likely to experience that you’ll give up playing because you can’t be bothered persevering, as much as Petroglyph could not be bothered play testing their game with someone who wasn’t sitting 12 inches away for the screen.

Staggeringly disappointing for the fun it promises, 8 Bit Invaders reminds you why nostalgia isn’t always the best thing in the world. Like Leg Warmers.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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8-Bit Invaders! Review
  • Gameplay - 6/10
  • Graphics - 6/10
  • Sound - 6/10
  • Replay Value - 6/10
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8 Bit Invaders reminds you why nostalgia isn’t always the best thing in the world. Like Leg Warmers.