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Space Invaders

Space Invaders was an arcade video game manufactured by Taito. It was released in 1979, and it sparked the video gaming craze that took the world by storm, and continues to this day.

Screenshot of the Space Invaders arcade game

Video games had existed prior to Space Invaders, and the game Pong by Atari was already a few years old when this game was released. But Space Invaders captured the attention and imagination of the public in a manner that few games before or since did. Its science fiction based action and futuristic setting appealed to a country in the midst of Star Wars mania. The game's design included a touch of horror, as it gave players the illusion that they were in a desperate battle to save the world from alien invaders... a battle that they would eventually lose, as endless waves of electronic aliens would sweep down until they were overwhelmed. The simple background soundtrack to the game, which gave the impression of a beating heart, increased the tension and kept players coming back for more.

The actual video game console itself had a black and white video image. Taito added color to the screen by coating the screen with colored plastic.

Space Invaders spawned an enormous number of imitators, as other video game manufacturers sought to cash in on its successful formula. Dozens of similarly-themed video games were released to arcades in a short period of time afterwards, though nearly all of these games were variations of the same theme: attacking aliens from outer space. The release of Pac Man in 1980 broke the mold of "alien invader" games, and it opened the way for more creativity and originality in the video gaming industry. But the legacy of Space Invaders lives on, and action-based science fiction games continue to pay homage to the original shoot-em-up video game.

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