4 Facts About Space Invaders to Celebrate its 40th Birthday

The late 1970s was an important time in the evolution of gaming. It was during these years that the first trackball arcade games became available, for example. The home console market also changed forever at this time with the introduction of the Atari 2600.

The launch of a single arcade game, however, is viewed by many as being the most important event of these early years of the arcade and video game industries. That game was Space Invaders.

Made by Taito, it was released in June 1978 in Japan although it didn't arrive in the US until the following month. It quickly became an iconic arcade game which even today is fun and addictive to play. There is something about the simplicity and challenge of the aliens approaching your laser from the top of the screen as you shoot them before they reach or shoot you.

So, to celebrate the 40th birthday of Space Invaders, here are four interesting facts about one of the most well-known games ever made.

Fact 1 - Space Invaders Was Inspired by Breakout

The man who created Space Invaders, Tomohiro Nishikado, said one of his main inspirations was the 1976 Atari game Breakout. The two major differences, of course, are the use of aliens and lasers instead of blocks and balls as well as the fact the aliens not only move but also shoot back.

Fact 2 - Early Designs Had No Lasers or Aliens

Nishikado's first designs for the game that would become Space Invaders included tanks, planes, and other earthly weaponry. However, he wasn't happy with the way they moved due to technical limitations. Plus, neither he nor the company wanted the game to be about war in the traditional sense. Space then became the theme.

Fact 3 – Nishikado Had to Invent the Hardware as Well as the Game

Computers at the time Nishikado was making Space Invaders were not powerful enough for what he wanted to create. So, he developed his own hardware using fast, new microprocessors from the US.

Fact 4 – The Technical Limitations Improve the Gameplay

If you've ever played the original arcade version of Space Invaders, you will know the remaining aliens on the screen start to move more rapidly the more of their colleagues you kill. There is a simple reason for this – killing aliens in the game lightens the load on the real-life microprocessors, making them, and the attacking aliens, faster.

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