Very few genres are as immediately gratifying as a good old shoot 'em up. Does 1917: The Alien Invasion DX have what it takes to test genre fans' skills or are you better off sticking to classic arcade shooters?
1917: The Alien Invasion DX has you play as Dr. Brunhild Stahlmuller who flies a World War I plane that she enhanced with alien technology. She's on a mission to battle alien forces and hopefully take them out at their source in the expanse of outer space. The basic gameplay follows your standard shmup formula where you shoot while dodging enemy projectiles and unleashing a bomb attack whenever you're in a sticky situation. You have two weapons and a variety of ships to choose from (you start out with 2 available). One weapon is your standard shot and the other is usually a more powerful shot that may slow you down and push you back. There are also a couple of power-ups in the form of shields and firepower upgrades. This is all standard stuff that'll be familiar if you've played a couple of arcade shooters before so thankfully, the controls are at least tight which complements the basic gameplay.
The aesthetic qualities of 1917: The Alien Invasion DX are rather crude. On a positive note, the pumping electronic soundtrack is well done and makes the arcade action even more enjoyable. However, the visuals are reminiscent of a low-budget original PlayStation game that you'd probably find in a bargain bin back in the day. Although poor graphics don't usually mean it's a bad game; in this instance, its visuals actually make 1917: The Alien Invasion DX a frustrating experience. It's frequently very difficult to make out what's what so you'll initially find yourself squinting while trying to work out just what it is you're looking at. This graphical chaos is a lot easier to deal with after you memorize the stages but before that point, constantly dealing with surprise deaths is nothing short of infuriating.
1917: The Alien Invasion DX consists of 8 stages with a boss at the end of each. That's basically it. There are no online leaderboards, different modes, or even a difficulty select. The only additional content comes in the form of 2 extra unlockable ships. This is disappointing because the campaign itself simply isn't enjoyable. Whereas a good shoot 'em up features challenging stages that test your reflexes and shooting skills, 1917: The Alien Invasion DX relies almost primarily on your ability to memorize enemy and boss patterns. Plus, that's not even difficult considering every foe lacks a variety of attack patterns (including bosses) so once you try each stage a few times, you'll be more than prepared to avoid hazardous areas and outsmart the dumb boss AI at the end.
Finally, I'd like to discuss just how stupid 1917: The Alien Invasion DX's scoring system is. You essentially have infinite lives and upon perishing, you retain your score. This means that you can get stuck on stage 1 and as long as you keep trying, you'll get a much higher score than someone who completed the whole game without perishing once. This aspect absolutely boggles my mind because there's actually a fairly interesting combo mechanic in play where you collect a key in order to start your combo then you can lock it in before fighting a boss so you can continue it in the next stage but, what's the point? With no online rankings and the fact that the scoring system is broken anyway, why would anyone even bother? It's probably the biggest oversight that I've ever seen in a game.
If you're a true shoot 'em up fan then playing 1917: The Alien Invasion DX will just make you mad. With a completely broken scoring system and a super-tedious campaign that plays like Simon Says, it's hard to imagine who would actually enjoy this.
- + Tight controls and basic shoot 'em up gameplay work well together
- + Pretty cool soundtrack
- - Visuals are incredibly chaotic and ambiguous which causes much frustration
- - Enemy patterns require memorization
- - Scoring makes absolutely no sense