Space Invaders, Anyone?
As part of this month’s freebies on PlayStation Plus, Titan Attacks! evokes all the old-school charm of its classic predecessor, though only for a finite amount of time. This is because there is an actual end to the quasi-storyline, after which the game just recycles the same stages on and on indefinitely. By that time, though, you’ll likely have already gotten every available power-up and trophy, so there is little reason to keep forging onward.
Obviously, Titan Attacks! has visually spruced up the penny-munching arcade shooter (if 8-bit graphics can be called “spruced up”). The game’s graphical pedigree never exceeds the NES era, nor does it need to. Sound-wise, it was kind of a gas to hear some memorable audio cues lifted straight off of Nintendo’s 1986 Legend of Zelda! But the visuals, especially backgrounds, are still colorful, with different vistas and color palettes representing the five different planets you’ll travel to on your journey to stop the alien invasion: Earth, the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and Titan, the aliens’ own home world.
After quickly getting through the first two worlds (each with about 20 or so waves of aliens to blast into oblivion), I got my first taste of challenge in the form of Mars’s boss ship, a large foe who rapid-fires from multiple cannons at once and takes a fair bit of damage to bring down. My initial strategy for advancing through levels – earn as much money as possible to spend on buying extra shield layers which would deplete with one hit – got me this far but no further. I had spent a lot of money on the one power-up that disappears when taking damage, completely ignoring the all-important permanent stat increases to gun power, number of bullets you can shoot at one time, and amount of additional loadout installed on your tiny little tank. After being rebuffed by the boss a few times, it became clear that a complete respec was in order, and that meant starting from scratch.
Thankfully, the levels practically fly by, with some waves only lasting a matter of seconds to complete. And applying a better strategy when spending my hard-earned upgrade dollars made each subsequent level
less frustrating more enjoyable! That’s how, during my second attempt, the levels practically flew by; I was able to stay ahead of the curve by purchasing permanent upgrades first, shield levels and bombs last. Before you know it, I was heading into the final confrontation with the alien mothership on Titan itself, and even this didn’t slow me down for long. Suffice it to say the challenging aspect of the game had well and truly ended by that point.
The final boss fight happened on (or close to) wave 100; I’m really not sure of the exact number. Completing the game here meant that I could restart the game again, this time keeping all my previous upgrades in place, facing increased firepower from foes, or I could jump to any planet I wanted and simply play those stages again. I did another complete run-through of the whole game, this time only taking me minutes, letting me unlock every last upgrade, collect what few trophies I was still missing (they’ll come flying at you like hotcakes as soon as you start playing), and earn more money than God, apparently. By the time the alien mothership had went down for a second time and the cycle restarted again at wave 200 and counting, I went ahead and put the controller away – there’s only so much I want to do with a game, and an infinite high score is not my cup of tea.