Invader Overload, a tribute to classics

I “released” another Pico-8 game last night, Invader Overload. That’s 3 games in as many months.

That fact along is pretty amazing for me. When I bought Pico-8 to make games, I never expected to make one game a month. That’s crazy. But here I am with 3 games under my belt and I feel good about it. Good enough to keep on going…

Invader Overload

I really miss my Nintendo DS Lite. It broke a while ago and while I know I can just buy a new one (still might), I just haven’t. One of the games I played most on the DS was Space Invaders Extreme. It was classic Space Invaders totally pimped out with weapons, backgrounds, bosses and music. I mean, it was a sensory overload in the best way possible. It also made great use of the DS’s two screens…but anyway, I loved that game, so I decided to demake it for Pico-8.

Making a Space Invaders clone was easy enough in terms of spaceships and aliens, but the two most important things from Extreme I had no easy way of doing myself — the music and the backgrounds.

Conveniently enough, the Pico-8 forum has a very long thread that features almost nothing but little “art” and animation demos…perfect to use as the manic, acid trip backgrounds needed to match Extreme. Easy enough…copy and paste. But what about music?

The music options for Pico-8 are limited and you can’t yet just import any different formats. I had to do this the old fashioned way: ask for help.

Invader Overload

I put out a tweet seeing if anyone wanted to help and quickly got a response. I was stoked…and I got even more excited when I talked with the artist and felt his excitement as well. That artist is Brian Follick, a video game music artist that was also new to Pico-8. I shared some inspiration with him, including the SI Extreme soundtrack, and that combined with some early screenshots of my game, and he got it. A few days later he had a demo and it rocked.

Never before had I felt so confident in a game I’d made, even if it wasn’t an original game, per se. I had a solid game play, good visuals and great music. It couldn’t lose, right? Well, so far it hasn’t. I mean, it’s not some groundbreaking game, but it’s fun and all of those factors contribute to that fact.

Invader Overload was a in-between game for me. BuzzKill was a lot of time and effort and the result was great. I needed something “easy” to make as a way to come off that work. Overload wasn’t about making a new game, it was about assembling a game from existing parts to make something fun. I think it accomplishes that…plus it kept me Pico-8ing and learning.

And now it’s time to think of something more original for my next game. Hmmm…

Play Invader Overload in your browser on Itch.io


Originally published at Morning Toast.