Invasion of the Body Snatchas!, ZX Spectrum

Created by Design Design and first published by Crystal Computing in 1983, Invasion of the Body Snatchas! is a super-hard Defender clone for the ZX Spectrum.

Having spent a couple of hours playing the game recently (to refresh my memory, since it’s been over thirty years since I last played it) I would say that it is waaaay too hard to be enjoyable. And you can probably guess that by looking at my entries on the high score table below.

The game is exactly the same as the classic Williams arcade game, Defender. You fly a spaceship left or right over a scrolling wrap-around landscape, protecting humans from being snatched by aliens by blasting them with your laser. Aliens appear in waves to carry the humans away and you can see them on your scanner at the top of the screen. If an alien carries a human to the top of the screen it turns the alien into a faster, more lethal (yellow, mutant) version of itself which will then home in on you, spewing bullets on a suicide mission to destroy you. Occasionally you also get different types of aliens appearing to ruin your game, which they often do. Just like in Defender: playing methodically and carefully is the only way to make any headway.

While Invasion of the Body Snatchas! plays quite well, and has smooth scrolling and responsive controls, it is almost impossible to prevent the aliens from snatching humans, and when they turn into yellow mutants it then becomes very hard to avoid destruction.

What is interesting is that the game’s co-creator – Simon Brattel – released a tweaked version of Invasion of the Body Snatchas! in 2018, which added protective shields, and seems much more fair and playable than the original. When I played the original I only managed to get to stage two once in two hours of play, but in the re-release I got to stage four in my first game… That cannot be a coincidence. The re-release is still available to download for free from the Design Design website (at the time of writing) and is the version I would choose to play today.

More: Invasion of the Body Snatchas! on Wikipedia

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