From the caves to the stars in two more re-releases
Spelunker HD Deluxe and Space Invaders Invincible Collection invade Switch
First released on PS3 back in 2009, Spelunker HD has come to the Switch etc and I, for one, am glad. I’ve always had a soft spot for this notorious kusoge, and I’d go as far as saying it’s not kuso in the slightest. A speedy and enjoyable new take on the 1983 platformer Spelunker (obvs), this edition lets you switch from the (somewhat crappy) redone visuals to the old classic ones - something we'd highly recommend doing instantly.
See, this is what makes Spelunker HD so interesting to me - it's not ashamed at all of being a "kusoge"; indeed, it leans hard into it, if anything being even more fussy and finicky than its source material. Falling just a few inches will end your life. Leaving ropes and ladders is a nightmarish crapshoot. Obstacles and traps will spring almost out of nowhere, but taking a cautious approach will see you run out of time. You've got to hit the ground running and just get to grips with the psychotic difficulty, because there are absolutely no compromises.
In a decision that will infuriate and alienate many, you'll stand to lose as many as nine full stages of progress should you run out of lives, but this is the key - it's so deliberately infuriating that it's difficult to actually be infuriated by. I mean, it'd be like getting upset with ice cream for being cold. Yes, Spelunker HD is heavy on the memorisation, but it's also heavy on fun, laughs and plentiful content. There are online modes too, but pfft. Couch multiplayer is where it's at.
I've also recently checked out Space Invaders: Invincible Collection and hoo-boy, there's some bones to pick here. First though I feel like I should make it apparent that this collection is reasonably generous and covers a pretty strong span of Taito's formative series, if that's what you're after. The included games are the original Space Invaders, the colourised version of the same, Space Invaders Part II, Lunar Rescue (not really a Space Invaders title, but built on the same hardware), Space Cyclone (ditto), Majestic Twelve, Super Space Invaders '91, Space Invaders DX, Space Invaders Extreme and Space Invaders Gigamax, which is more of a notion than a fun game. Buying this pack also lets you download Arkanoid Vs Space Invaders, a somewhat enjoyable mobile game that doesn't work great on the Switch.
Immediately confusingly, the previously-available Space Invaders Forever package already included the latter three of these games (including Arkanoid), so if you've already snapped that up you're left with a bit of an anaemic loadout. Space Invaders Extreme is the pick of the pack - as you should all well know - but, quite frankly, the rest of the spread just isn't diverse enough. Space Invaders is Space Invaders and as important as it is, I challenge the notion that anybody really wants to play it outside of the aforementioned heavily-spruced-up version in Extreme.
Additionally, this package is missing the other Space Invaders game I heartily recommend - which was included on Taito Legends 2 many years ago - Space Invaders '95: Attack of the Lunar Loonies. That game was ceaselessly creative and entertaining and, for whatever twisted reason, it's nowhere to be seen here.
Still, there's probably an audience here. There are probably people reading this right now going "shut up, Gipp, you don't know the first thing about Space Invaders". I'll cheerfully concede that point, but I will make fun of you later. Secretly.