Space Monster

1980 was a turning point in home video gaming. Proper games consoles like the Atari Video Computer System and the Philips Videopac G7000 had been on the market since the height of the Pong craze back in ’77 but a combination of high price and lack of killer app largely kept them out of the wider public consciousness. This all changed with Space Invaders.

Space Invaders was the breakthrough Arcade hit from 1978. The game sees you defending the Earth from the titular alien invaders in a manor that bears more than a passing resemblance to Atari’s 1975 Arcade smash Breakout (and from their the roots firmly go back to Pong).

With the cost of these gaming systems moving into the affordable £100 category and the release of Space Invaders type games to these systems meant the time had finally arrived for a new entertainment media.

Space Invaders itself, through licencing with Taito, was an Atari property and only (officially) available with their home entertainment system. To get around this rival manufacturers produced their own Space Invader like games for their respective systems. Space Monster was Philips/Magnavoxs answer.

The game is very noticeably Space Invaders but with equally obvious differences that unfortunately, in this case, do detract from the original. Not that Space Monster is in anyway a bad game, it’s just it doesn’t manage to live up to the source material. The issues really stem from two places. The first is the barrier between you and the enemy. This makes lining up and timing shoots more critical and hence leaves you more open to attack.

But it’s the second problem, when combined with the first, that is the games ultimate downfall. There’s no player scoring. Sounds like a simple thing and very common to the majority of the Videopac game library, but in this instance it’s a major obmission. Instead you play best of 10 against the computer. Either it kills you 4 times our you clear the screen. There’s no reward for hitting the alien monster, stopping lasers, having bases or completing a screen. No kudos. No bragging rights. Nothing to challenge your mates to better.

3/5

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