The year was 1982 when this monster of gaming delight was unleashed on the world. Space Invaders had already shown the public’s love of killing things that invaded and an alternative was needed. Earth Invaders was developed as a computer space battle game. The box is labelled with the special features to be found inside.
These include – dynamic sound and light, 2-colour fluorescent display panel and a full 2 Kilobytes processor. Yes folks, TWO KILOBYTES! All of this was in an alien shaped plastic console which is comfortable to hold and is an ergonomically successful design.
Once you have found four of the UM-II batteries that are needed to power this beast you switch the centre black switch to either AM or PRO. In PRO the aliens move faster than you do, so it is much harder. When I say aliens, don’t get excited about the images you are gong to see. The aliens are circles with four squiggles, one in each corner. You star as a red character. The game play is unusual. I have never come across a game so unique.
Although it has an addictive quality it is easy to see why space invaders took off and earth invaders didn’t. You have to dig holes to catch the aliens in. Then when you have dug a hole and an alien walks into it, you have to fill the hole in. A peculiar idea. The graphics are ultra-simple fluorescent images, the sounds are repetitive beeps to signify digging or burying.
In the image above the eight squares are fixed blocks around which the aliens must move. The aliens are the three circles with squiggles The red spot is you, the hero. You can move left right up down, as can the aliens. The theory is to surround yourself with holes so that the aliens can’t get you. You then fill them in whenever they reach you. Until they approach two at once and then you’ve had it.
The trouble really is with the hole idea. There is little movement because you spend your time digging holes and then waiting for an alien to fall into your trap. Of course everyone who plays retro games knows that anything can become addictive, even digging circles to capture circles with squiggles. The colours are still bright and effective and it is a game that can be filed under simple yet maddening. If you have a chance to play it have a go.