It’s 40 years since Space Invaders first touched down in western arcades, and – arguably – changed the face of gaming forever. While video games had typically depicted sporting pursuits such as tennis and football, Space Invaders offered a sci-fi fantasy of battling alien monsters in the depths of space.
And while Space Invaders may seem simple, that doesn’t mean you know all there is to know about Tomohiro Nishikado’s groundbreaking arcade smash. So, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, here’s 5 things you never knew about Space Invaders.
1. Advanced Tech
Space Invaders may look simple today, but at the time of release it was so advanced that the game’s creator had to design his own custom hardware to even get the game running. Tomohiro Nishikado couldn’t find the components he needed in his native Japan, so created the new arcade board using imported microprocessors from the US.
2. Feature, not bug
Even with cutting edge hardware, Nishikado still found that the game still slowed down significantly when large numbers of enemies were onscreen, and only sped up when the player had destroyed certain numbers. Nishikado smartly decided to turn this bug into a feature, making the increasing speed of the aliens a key part of Space Invaders’ challenge.
3. DIY Solutions
Space Invaders was first released in black and white. Its iconic green and white visuals were only achieved using strips of cellophane stuck to the arcade machine’s screen.
4. Inspiring the future
Various legendary figures within the industry credit Space Invaders as their introduction to the world of gaming, including Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Donkey Kong, Mario, and Zelda) and Hideo Kojima (creator of Metal Gear Solid), as well as John Romero and John Carmack (the creators of Doom).
5. Record breaker
12-year-old Eric Furrer earned himself a Guinness World Record for the longest marathon session of Space Invaders back in 1980, when he played the game for a staggering 38 hours and 30 minutes. The machine was fitted with a special button that let Furrer pause the game for bathroom breaks.