The History Of Space Invaders

The History Of Space Invaders

The invasion began in Japan. Programmer Toshihiro Nishikado took the classic sci-fi riff of alien invasion and transported it to the video screen. The otherworlders, arranged in a tight row and column formation, marched left and right across the screen, dropping down one level each time they hit the side. You controlled a lone laser base, defending the planet by firing back at the hostile armies. You could also move left and right, using four convenient shields to play a dangerous game of fire and retreat as the aliens unleashed their own laser assault.

As the invaders were knocked out one by one, their march grew faster and faster, until a lone invader sped across the screen. If you managed to hit them all, a new wave of invaders would take to the sky. But if the baddies hit ground zero, it was game over for you and for the Earth.

When Taito released Space Invaders in Nishikado’s homeland, the game caused a national furor. Hundreds of thousands of Space Invaders machines were produced, and the game’s popularity caused a shortage of 100-Yen coins. When restaurants complained that customers were playing instead of eating, Taito simply supplied them with sit-down cocktail cabinets, further fueling the Space Invaders hysteria.