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6 Fascinating Facts About 'Space Invaders'

Oct 15, 2018 MEN
A look inside the legendary video game.
It would be difficult today to find someone who is not familiar with the classic image of a jet black screen with rows of slowly-moving, squiggly figures and a speedy laser cannon zooming along the bottom of the landscape, blasting them out of existence. Created in 1978 by developer Tomohiro Nishikado for publisher Taito, the arcade game called Space Invaders exploded with unprecedented popularity upon its release, eventually becoming responsible for a global phenomenon that transformed video gaming from a novel hobby to a rapidly expanding international industry.


To celebrate the game's 40th anniversary, we’re offering an exciting range of graphic printed tees with unique designs inspired by the legendary game. To get you in the mood for another round of mowing down aliens, here are some fun facts about the game and its creations. Read on, and then shop the new collection.

ENDLESS EVOLUTION



Space Invaders as we know it today didn’t spring immediately into existence. The classic video game began in Nishikado’s mind as a simple shooting game, initially intending to use planes, tanks, and soldiers as the game’s enemies. However, a conscious effort to distance the playing experience from real-world military imagery led Nishikado to opt for an otherworldly adversary, a choice that was informed particularly by a new global interest in science fiction.

ALIENS AMONG US


Nishikado modeled his extra-terrestrial enemies on creatures a little closer to home. The familiar forms of octopuses, squids, and crabs inspired the creation of the globally recognizable pixelated aliens we know and love today. As a subtle homage to this timeless iconography, we’ve stitched small alien appliques to each of our tees.

HARD TO BEAT



Despite 1970s video game technology's rudimentary nature, Nishikado worked a multitude of innovative features and concepts into his game, shaping a whole industry. Two of those innovations were the ideas of a high score and a leaderboard. Suddenly, arcade games could be played for bragging rights as each player battled to achieve permanent recognition as the best.

SINGING A DIFFERENT SONG


Before Space Invaders, music and sound effects were afterthoughts in game design — merely supplementary elements that never had influence on gameplay itself. Space Invaders was the first game to employ an on-going soundtrack which played as the user did. Not only that, the music changed and shifted dynamically – speeding up as the alien army approached closer and closer to the player’s defensive line. Using the game's music to inform a player’s emotional response and decision-making was an entirely new concept and a huge step forward for game designers on a wider scale.

FROM LIMITATION TO INNOVATION



Limited by still developing software and hardware, Nishikado had to settle for programming simple, blocky movements as his invaders slowly inched their way towards the player’s cannon. However, he found that destroying enemy aliens would reduce the load on the microprocessor, allowing the game to run faster. This led to an interesting and crucial gameplay mechanic — the gradually increasing speed of the invaders as they player made progress through a level. This bug-turned-feature in part gave the game its infamous reputation as a challenging staple of every complete arcade.

BACK FROM THE DEAD


Space Invaders was eventually responsible for revitalizing an industry which was, at the time, still taking tentative baby steps towards growth. Video gaming at home and in arcades had fallen into a numbing habit of producing simple, repetitive clones of already popular titles. The innovative design and gameplay of Space Invaders was more than enough to energize and refresh game producers and consumers alike, rekindling the public’s fascination with interactive media. Becoming the best-selling video game of its time, Space Invaders is often considered today one of the most important and influential video games in history.
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