Space Invaders is the very apex of retro videogaming and its timeless appeal has permeated the wider public consciousness down through the years. Created by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1978, Space Invaders was initially sold by Taito in Japan and was later licensed for production in the USA by the Midway division of Bally. It was one of the earliest shooting games and according to Nishikado it was inspired by the lesser known Taito Corporation electro-mechanical game ‘Space Monsters’. The popular culture of the time, which included movies such as Star Wars, also played a part in determining the look of the game.
Due to the limitations of 1970’s processors Nishikado was forced to design and build his own hardware and development tools, ultimately using a combination of both Japanese and American components in the finished model.
The game play, which seems pretty simple by today’s standards, consisted of shooting wave after wave of descending aliens using a laser cannon which moved along a fixed horizontal axis. Space Invaders features a number of key gameplay elements which helped define it as a groundbreaker in the industry. The Invaders’ bombardment will slowly erode the cover available to the player, eventually forcing them to rely purely on their reflexes to avoid being destroyed. The game also features a then-revolutionary difficulty curve; as more aliens are eliminated, the surviving enemies increase their speed and rate of fire until the final Invaders become nimble, deadly adversaries that are almost impossible to hit. Finally, Space Invaders was instrumental in popularizing the use of a high score, as well as a saving system, giving players a sense of progress and achievement rather than a perpetually looping game.
Its difficulty curve, highly praised by critics, was originally the result of a bug – the system initially didn’t have the processing power to render the enemies at their correct speeds. As more were eliminated from the screen, there became fewer moving characters to slow down the hardware, resulting in the game gradually building up to its intended speed. This once unintentional feature became a hallmark of Space Invaders, and a milestone in gaming.
Simple it may have been but it was also incredibly addictive, and went on to become one of the most influential video games of all time, laying the foundations for most of the shooting and action games that followed. In the process it revolutionised the gaming industry and became an icon of popular culture itself.
By 1982, just 4 years after its release, Space Invaders had earned the Taito Corporation more than $1 billion and continued to gross an average of $600 million a year for some time thereafter. Apart from making it the best selling video game in history, this also made Space Invaders the highest grossing entertainment product of its time, surpassing the then highest grossing film Star Wars which made a mere $486 million in movie tickets!
This original model has undergone a thorough yet sympathetic refurbishment at the hands of our experts and stands ready to transport you back to the halcyon days of your misspent youth!
We at the Games Room Company have always had a great appreciation for video games, ever since the first commercial video game (Computer Space) was released back in 1971. We were one of the first companies to bring over TAITO’s Space Invaders to the UK, quickly going on to supply pubs all over the country. Our founder, Reginald Waldersmith, was a particularly avid fan of Atari’s Pong, describing it as being “quite as fun as real tennis, and not nearly as exhausting”. We have proudly continued his fondness for retro video games, and much of our inventory includes games we’ve manufactured ourselves.