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Looking for a decent Space Invaders clone for your smartphone? Radiant is a great choice that successfully evokes the pioneering spirit of classic gaming while updating the genre.
Radiant is available from the Windows Phone Store [$1.99 or £1.49 or free trial] for Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8 devices. Developers Hexage also released Radiant Defense, available on Mac OS X and mobile platforms. Radiant is also available for Android (Radiant in the Play Store) and iOS (Radiant in the App Store). Despite the different platforms, all versions essentially play and look the same.
Your Mission In Space…
The game begins with the realisation that something terrible is afoot. Once the asteroid belt is passed, Commander Norton radios you the information that a terrible alien attack is taking place (as he does throughout the game in a variety of entertaining, comic book ways). Your craft is the only one available to deal with the incursion (it would be a pretty dull game otherwise) and so the game begins in earnest.
Starting off with three lives and a single pea-shooter of a weapon, your character, Max Blaster, must then complete a series of stages that are variations on the asteroids and space invaders games of the early days of arcade video gaming.
Control is simple. There is no fire button as this occurs automatically (and the rate of fire is something that can be altered as you upgrade your weapons) – instead, you tap right or left to move your ship as desired.
Colourful, Retro Graphics And Sound
Back in the old days of huge arcade cabinets that you would stand at, sit at or sit in, graphics were garish but low quality. The same was true of home consoles, and despite advances in technology, clones and sequels to these pioneering games never really felt the same – arguably because the graphics were just too good.
Were Hexage succeed with Radiant is in the presentation of the game and the visual design. Standard aliens are mono-coloured, although they appear in groups of differently coloured attack formations; similarly, asteroids evoke the vector line graphics of the old Asteroids game. It is only the bosses that benefit from a multicolour design. This isn’t a restriction of resources as in the original source materials, more the evocation of a similar spirit, that of super-playable games.
The sound effects are modest but effective, but the real winner on audio is the soundtrack. When played wearing headphones, Radiant is a stunning proposition as the visuals and audio combine to make a truly memorable and addictive gaming experience.
These Aliens Are No Walkover!
Three difficulty levels are on offer in Radiant: Casual, Survival and Hardcore. This should give you a good idea of just how tough it can get, should you be good enough to unlock the second level.
Survival is tough, and is a combination of using offence as the best form of defence, as well as taking advantage of the flanks of the game area, where the boss aliens rarely aim their weapons.
Waves of invaders are broken up by the occasional asteroid level, a good opportunity – if your guns are up to it – for earning some credits by destroying oncoming rocks. Credits can also be earned by destroying single waves of aliens or the larger monsters, while bosses usually leave you with weapon or extra life power ups.
After earning enough credits you can purchase weapon upgrades too, as well as extra lives.
Look Out For: Entertaining Cutscenes
To explain the increasingly challenging waves of aliens and bosses, inter-level cutscene conversations between Max Blaster, Commander Norton and the alien leader are used to lighten the mood and provide rationale for the game continuing beyond the initially presented scenario.
There are some real gems in here, such as the aliens taunting Max Blaster with cries of “Insert Coin! Insert Coin! Insert Coin!”
You’ll also spot a reference to Star Wars early on in the game – there are many more sci-fi memes and hat tips as you progress.
The Ultimate Space Invaders Clone? Very Likely!
Hexage packed hours of fun packed into this superb game, which is available from the Windows Phone Store for $1.99 (£1.49) or a free trial. Sadly, there is no Xbox Live integration, which means there is no opportunity to unlock achievements or increase your Gamerscore.
Have you played Radiant, either as a result of reading this review or following a prior purchase? Tell us what you think of it in the comments.