Ratalaika are back with another retro-inspired arcade game in the form of Zeroptian Invasion. Now, let us make it clear from the get-go, if you’re here for the achievements, you’re in luck; all can be unlocked in the space of a ten minute sitting. I guess that’s what we’ve come to expect from the good folks at Ratalaika. Though, what about the game itself? If you’re not here for some easy Gamerscore, is the experience at hand worthy of your time and attention? Much like the majority of Ratalaika’s servings, it’s a very hit and miss affair.
Zeroptian Invasion is very much inline with Space Invaders, being that the presentation the, layout, and the overall objective remains almost identical. There’s not much of a story present, in fact, you’re introduced to the plot via a single-screen of text. Here, it’s relayed to you that the titular Zeroptians have returned and are invading the F-1 system planet, and taking on the role of a spaceship, you’re sent out to protect the galaxy. It’s a relatively straightforward affair for the most part, and to be honest, it doesn’t really need more to it.
The game’s menu and its interface is clean and concise. Here, you can dive right into the game, learn how to play, check out your high-scores, or browse some options. When it comes to the latter, you’re afforded the ability to toggle vibration, adjust volume, rotate the screen, or enable/disable CRT. Once you’re happy with your selections, you’re ready to jump into the fray. The game is split across several levels of varying design, with the occasional boss fight popping up and providing a check-point once you’ve overcome them.
The crux of play couldn’t be simpler if it tried. Much like Space Invaders, you’ll guide your spaceship at the bottom of the screen to the left and to the right, and must blast a range of pre-set enemies located at the upper of the screen. You’re only given two lives to make use of, which is usually just enough to make it from boss to boss as you work through the journey. Should you die and run out of lives, you’ll be given an infinite amount of continues to dive back in and take off from the level following your last defeated boss encounter.
Each level typically takes less than a minute to complete on a good run. Enemy placement remains the same on each play-through, so you’ll always know what you’re dealing with throughout. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, and tend to house their own unique attacks; projectiles, webs, kamikaze attacks, and so forth. Moving left to right, you’ll dodge their attacks and attempt to land a few of your own along the way. The kicker? Enemies move in a formation left and right, moving closer in on you as they touch the screen’s edge.
The goal is to clear the screen of enemies before that happens, and to help you along the way, you’ll be able to pick up a few power-ups via blasting a UFO that randomly appears to the utmost of the screen. These power-ups are not well explained to you, but range the usual; shields and so forth. Once you’ve cleared a level of foes, you’ll instantly be transported to the next. Levels tend to vary by design, and enemies gradually become more resilient as progress is made, ultimately lending the game a small degree of depth.
Eventually, you’ll clear enough levels to come up against a boss, and to the game’s credit, they’re all quite challenging. They’re not overly tough, but it did take me a few attempts to overcome them. They’re much larger than the standard enemies and tend to dish out unique attacks that require some swift reflexes to avoid. Bosses do come with a health-bar, so you’ll always know how close you are to victory. In regards to killing said bosses, there’s never really much tactic needed, save blasting a few shots at an isolated weak point.
When all is said and done, Zeroptian Invasion is bound to scratch that arcade retro itch. Whilst there’s not much depth to the whole ordeal, and whilst it does become fairly repetitive before long, those that enjoy these old school high-score focused bouts of action will feel right at home. Moving back to the achievements, if that’s why you’re here, you’ll not need much skill to earn them all; in fact, all you need to do is defeat the second boss, and by then, you should have them all in the bag. Nice, simple, and worth the trade.
In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, everything is as it should be. The game sports a 1-bit color presentation, with some minor color changes taking place as you get deeper into the game. Whilst the gameplay takes place within a confined screen-space, there’s some fancy artwork present to the left and to the right that helps to relay that classic cabinet gaming-like approach. Sure, it doesn’t go above or beyond expectations, but it gets the job done nevertheless. The audio is also serviceable, nothing more, nothing less.
Zeroptian Invasion wears its inspirations on its sleeve, but never really attempts to stand out as anything other than a clone. Still, for those of you specifically looking for a Space Invaders-like affair, you cant at all go wrong here, just don’t expect much originality.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.