Krazy Alienz Invade My Space!

Review of Krazy Alienz on XBLIG: Buy
Easy to pass up as just another Space Invaders clone, Krazy Alienz takes classic gameplay and spices it up with several unique twists.

I won’t lie, Krazy Alienz is the kind of game I would pass over if I was just browsing the XBLIG channel.  The box art and screenshots setup the game to be a simple Space Invades clone.  Nothing wrong with Space Invaders, but I was more a Yar’s Revenge and Missile Command guy on the Atari 2600.  Space Invaders just…  lacked something.

The basic gameplay is still the same: rows of aliens move back and forth, slowly descending up my spaceship at the bottom of the screen.  As in the original, four shields hover just above my ship and are worn down by both the aliens’ missiles and my own.  A UFO flies across the top of the screen, but unlike the original the UFO is much larger and drops balls that are either power-ups or “power-downs”.  If a ball from the UFO is shot, it unlocks a power-up such as speed, multi-bullets, or a rewind power causing the aliens to fly in reverse (and thus giving more time).  If a ball hits my ship it activates a power-down, or in other words a power-up for the aliens, letting them move quicker, shoot faster, or perform  Galaga-style kamikaze dives.

In addition to 4 player co-op, two other game modes are presented: Blaster and Skill-Shot.  In Skill-Shot one of the aliens will flash and it is the only alien I am allowed to shoot.  If I shot the wrong alien, I die.  If you’ve ever wanted a thinking man’s Space Invaders, this mode is it.  The Blaster mode does away with the aliens and only has UFO dropping balls at a fast pace.   My spaceship must avoid or shoot the balls while a timer counts down the time left in the level.  I’m not sure how they are triggered, but in all modes there appear to be bonus levels that start after you finish a level.  I’ve encountered a version of the Skill-Shot mode as a bonus level, and also a bonus level to shoot as many aliens as I could in a time limit.

The game offers a number of options – too many really.  Game mode and difficulty level are welcome, however, the option screen is cluttered with a mind numbing array of choices.  The menus and text generally feel crowded, and my major complaint with the game is there is simply too much text in too many colors on screen at once to digest.  Fortunately, I found myself able to skip though the text heavy screens without reading them and get back to playing the game.

The gameplay shines in Krazy Alienz.  The power-ups and power-downs add the missing ingredient to Space Invaders, and the pace keeps you on the edge of controlled chaos.  I found myself many time going after UFO balls for power-ups even when I didn’t need them, just to see what they would do.  For me, the Skill-Shot mode is a little dull, but I really enjoy the Blaster mode.  The multiplayer feature is a great bonus to an already solid solo experience.

Krazy Alienz is an unqualified Buy.  Games like this is the reason why I started GameMarx – to give attention to a great game that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle.  The developer has promised new features and options coming in the new year,  but this game fully justifies the $1 as it is now.

A copy of Krazy Alienz was provided to GameMarx for this review by the developer.

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