Saturday, April 27

Review: Zeroptian Invasion [Nintendo Switch eShop]


When it comes to arcade shooters on the Switch I’m pretty well universally game to check just about anything out. Whether it’s the twin-stick variety, side-scrolling, retro-classic, or roguelike I love seeing what people have to offer all across the spectrum. I’ve seen some pretty impressive tweaks to classic formulas and some games that have then thrown in new ideas as well to great effect. Jumping into this space is Zeroptian Invasion, a game that has elements of multiple arcade classics, and that to a degree does them justice… but still ultimately falls a bit flat up against its competition.


Right out of the gate (after a nice classic bit of music) anyone should be able to recognize the inspiration of the initial wave in the game, Space Invaders. You’ll be trying to shoot aliens that are slowly making their way down the screen and taking cover beneath barriers that will slowly take damage and then go away. The game’s first boss fight actually involves one of those barriers that comes to life, which is a decent surprise, and then you’ll move on to new waves that will continue to change things up with a different color and new surprises and more challenging bosses.


There are three power-ups you can obtain in the game, always from shooting down a UFO that will make its way across the top of the screen amidst the action. One will let you shoot slightly faster, another will help you move slightly quicker, and the last will give you a one-hit shield. Unfortunately that’s all she wrote with power-ups and since you’re not even able to stack them you never get to be terribly powerful or agile and that feels like a bit of a shame. In particular you feel sluggish and incapable in the first phase of new waves that feel a bit like bonus sequences you’d play in some games where you try to take out all ships in a wave that follow an odd pattern… except that these ships shoot at you and given the most score bonus for getting them all you’re generally better off avoiding for fear of taking a hit.


While in terms of the music and visuals Zeroptian Invasion hits its retro mark the gameplay comes up a bit bland and lacking not just by modern standards but even in some cases up against the games this was looking to emulate. The minor number of pretty weak power-ups, your general lack of agility, and the subdued overall action just make it a game that you can play, not something that reaches out of the screen and grabs you, compelling you to put in another quarter and give it another try. In the end it just fails to deliver anything terribly new or exciting, or even in many cases the charm of the games they’ve borrowed from along the way.


Score: 5.5

Pros:
  • Nails the general look and music of a classic arcade shooter
  • Definitely provides a bit of a challenge and includes elements of multiple classics
  • Includes the option to play in TATE mode vertically

Cons:
  • In general, even when fully powered up, your ship feels sluggish and pretty incapable
  • Fails to innovate and feel modern but also doesn’t recapture the classic charm of the games it emulates