Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Space Invaders / Space Invaders M

Space Invaders (c) 07/1978 Taito.

Quite simply the most influential video-game of all time. A single player moves an armed 'base' left or right along the bottom of the screen and shoots the endless waves of aliens marching relentlessly down the screen towards earth.

There are four buildings (shields) at the bottom of the screen that the player can hide behind, but these will eventually be destroyed by either enemy missiles or by direct contact with the invaders themselves. The player's shots will also destroy the shields.

The aliens' descent quickens as they are eliminated, making them harder to hit. A flying saucer will fly across the top of the screen at regular intervals and can be shot to earn extra points.


The various versions of Space Invaders came in a lot of different cabinets. The upright version was blue and white and had painted side-art of several 'werewolf' looking aliens, the 'Deluxe' version had similar art, but in red and blue instead of blue and white. The control panel used a metal overlay and had buttons for movement and firing. Most non-US versions of the game had a 2-Way joystick instead of movement buttons. The monitor bezel and marquee were a single piece of glass with a nice detailed planetary scene. The monitors were supposed to have a set color overlays. The cabaret (or mini), version had woodgrain sides, and was almost completely unadorned. There were many different cocktail versions made. Most of them used small 2-Way joysticks, and did not have a lot of decoration.

Clones and bootlegs were usually cocktails. Most 1970s era cocktails were simple rectangles with small control panels that were almost straight up and down. The exact designs varied a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they all looked very similar. Upright clones and bootlegs were often conversions of earlier monochrome games such as "Boot Hill" and "Shark JAWS".

Main CPU : 8080 (@ 1.9968 Mhz)

Sound Chips : SN76477 (@ 1.9968 Mhz), Samples

Screen orientation : Vertical

Video resolution : 224 x 240 pixels

Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz

Palette colors : 2

Players : 2

(most non-US versions)

Control : 2-way Joystick

Buttons : 1 (FIRE)

(US version)

Buttons : 3 (LEFT, RIGHT, FIRE)

(The US version had no joystick)


Licensed by Midway for US production (Game ID : 739).

The development of Space Invaders only took three months, but developing the programming environment alone took almost six months.

Space Invaders was so popular in Japan that it caused a yen shortage and more coins had to be minted. Many regular produce and goods stores in Japan removed their products and converted into Space Invaders parlors overnight, complete with giant speakers broadcasting the 'thump-thump-thump' of the marching invaders. A true classic in every sense of the word.

Invaders contains the first attract mode with a sense of humour, it would display 'INSERT CCOIN' and an invader would come along and bomb the offending extra 'C'.

There are exactly 55 invaders per screen and exactly 11 different in-game sounds.

Space Invaders was the first arcade game to work its way out of seedy arcades and into pizza parlors and ice cream shops.

The Space Invaders phenomenon stunned many conservative adults of the time who were convinced that video-games soured the minds of their youngsters. Residents of Mesquite, Texas, pushed the issue all the way to the Supreme Court in their efforts to ban the illicit machines from their Bible-belt community. A number of reported incidents of juvenile crime began to surface shortly after Invaders' release, adding to its 'controvosy'. A girl was caught stealing $5000 from her parents and gangs of youths were reported to have robbed grocery stores just so they would have money to play the game.

About 65,000 units were produced in the U.S. and a reported 350,000 world wide.

Bootlegs of this game are known as "Super Invaders", "Super Earth Invasion", "Alien Invasion Part II" and "Space War Part Three".

Clones were manufactured by other manufacturers, they are known as "IPM Invader", "Cosmic Monsters", "Cosmic Monsters 2" "Space Attack", "Space Attack II", "Jatre Specter", "Space War" and "Space King".

Space Invaders inspired a catchy hit song by 'Uncle Vic' called 'Space Invaders' released over the spring to summer-time period of 1980. The Pretenders also released an instrumental song called 'Space Invaders' on their debut album in 1980.

A Space Invaders unit appears in the 1980 movie 'Midnight Madness', in the 1982 movie 'Jekyll & Hyde... Together Again', in the 1982 movie 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High', in the 1983 movie 'Joysticks', in the 1984 movie 'The Iceman', and in the 1991 movie 'Terminator 2 - Judgment Day'.

A Space Invaders unit appears in the ZZ Top music video, 'Legs'.

An upright unit of the Taito release of Space Invaders appears in the Nazareth music video 'Holiday'.


A company called Logitec manufactured a bootleg of Space Invaders with a color monitor. While most of the screen remains B&W, the green is actually generated by the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and although it looks very much like an overlay it's not. Back then this pirated PCB, because of it's design and minimal memory room on the PCB, (remember we are talking old technology), the game was very complex for it's time. It used an old 8080 processor which unlike the Z80 processor, it had its limitations. When this game was first designed it was originally going to be released as a B&W game and not color. The green is done by taking a segment out of the video processing area of the PCB and pulling it down with a bipolar prom to generate the affect. There are actually 2 video lines on this pcb - 1 for B&W and the other for sync and color.


Large Invader : 10 points.

Medium Invader : 20 points.

Small Invader : 30 points.

UFO : 50 to 300 points.


* When you start the game, your base will be in the bottom left corner of the screen, below the buildings. Your goal is to blast the invaders into dust. Keep in mind that once the invaders make it to either the right or left edge of the screen, they will drop down a row and head in the opposite direction. You should plan your strategy to prevent them from making it to an edge.

* A good strategy is to start blasting out the columns on the opposite edge of movement. This is if the invaders are moving right, the start blasting out the leftmost columns first. This way, their return trip is longer and you have more time to deal with them.

* Do not attempt to hit the invaders dead center. They fire their laser bombs from dead center and your shots will collide, wasting your shot and letting them move closer to an edge.

* Speaking of shots, you can only have one shot out at a time so make it count.

* Use your buildings to your advantage. 'Peek' around buildings to get shots and blast a hole in the middle of your buildings to give you protection while you knock out columns of invaders. Keep in mind, this protection will only last about 2 columns before the invaders blow open a hole wide enough to destroy your base.

* Every other wave of invaders starts one row lower. Eventually, the waves will start one row above your buildings. Be prepared to do some fast shooting to keep them from getting any lower because once they reach your level, the game is over.

* When you are down to taking out the last invader on a wave, that invader will zip across the screen. The strange thing is that the invader travels faster going left to right then going right to left. Keep this in mind when trying to shoot it.

* The mystery saucer (or UFO) will appear at random times. If you have a good shot at it, try to hit it. Don't go out of your way, however, to go after it; it isn't worth the risk or time wasted.

* The Hidden Message Trick : To get the hidden message, you must do the following :

1) When the demo starts, you need to press the following keys at the same time on the machine : LEFT, RIGHT, FIRE, 1 PLAYER START, 2 PLAYER START.

2) Continue to press these keys rapidly as fast as you can.

3) If you are successful, the message ('TAITO COP') will appear under the high score.

* Shot Counting Trick : To get 300 every time you hit the mystery saucer. It is named the 'Furrer Trick' named after Eric Furrer who perfected it. To do this trick, perform the following :

1) Once the new level begins, start counting the shots from your base.

2) When you have fired 22 shots, stop shooting and wait for the mystery saucer.

3) Use the 23rd shot to blast the mystery saucer.

4) After this, start counting shots again, this time count only to 14.

5) Use the 15th shot to hit the mystery saucer.

6) Continue using the 14 shot rule until the level is finished.

7) At the next wave, start with the 22 shot rule, then use the 14 shot rule to finish that wave.

8) Remember, all shots count regardless of hits or misses.

* Eric Furrer writes : Here's a variant of the Counting Trick that most people don't know and it's the exact trick I used to play that darn game for 36 hours over 20 years ago. The shot count trick works great for level 1,2,3 but you can't use 22-14-14 counts for mystery ships on the 4th wave because the invaders are too low. If you wait around for the ship after 22-14, then the invaders will be down too quick and you will surely die. Most players at this point do a 22 count and abandon the remaining 14 counts and just clear the board. This slows point accumulation.

My solution is simple and the shot count works in progressions as well : On the 4th wave count 22, wait, and clobber the 300. Now instead of counting 14, shoot the 29 invaders in the bottom rows and get the ship. Now the invaders are high enough to do two more 14's.

Here's the grid for rolling the machine's score in about 6 minutes by the forth wave using 29. Otherwise, you'd have to wait until the 5th wave. Seems minor, but it saves 30 seconds per roll, which could mean a 30 minute lead against a good player on a head to head speed match, a difference of about 50,000 points!

1st wave - 22, 14, 14, 14, 14, 14 (bonus = 3000 + 990 = 3990 first wave)

2nd wave - 22, 14, 14, 14 (bonus = 1200 + 990 = 2190 total score now = 6180)

3rd wave - 22, 14, 14, 14 (bonus = 1200 + 990 = 2190 total score now = 8370)

4th wave - 22, 29, 14 (bonus = 900 + 990 = 1890 total score now = 0260 or 10260) (if you counted 22, 14, you couldn't get the 3rd 14 without severe risk of death row)

5th wave - 22, 29, 14 (same as 4th wave)

6th wave - 22, 14

7th wave - 22 14

8th wave - 22

9th wave - 22

Then back to the first wave!!


1. Space Invaders (1978)

2. Space Invaders Deluxe (1979)

3. Return of the Invaders (1985)

4. Majestic Twelve - The Space Invaders Part IV (1990)

5. Space Invaders DX (1994)

6. Space Invaders '95 - The Attack of Lunar Loonies (1995)

7. Space Invaders Virtual Collection (1995, Nintendo Virtual Boy)

8. Space Invaders Anniversary (2003)

9. Space Invaders Evolution (2005, Sony PSP)

10. Space Invaders Revolution (2005, Nintendo DS)


Designed and programmed by : Tomohiro Nishikado


* Consoles :

Atari 2600 (1978)

Atari 5200 (1982)

Emerson Arcadia (1982) : title later changed to "Alien Invaders".

Atari XEGS

Sega SG-1000 (1983)

Nintendo Famicom (1985)

Nintendo Game Boy (1991)

Sega Saturn (1996)

Nintendo Super Famicom (1997, "Space Invaders - The Original Game")

Sony PlayStation (1997)

Nintendo Game Boy Color (1999)

Bandai WonderSwan (1999)

Nuon (2000, "Space Invaders XL")

Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2002)

Sony PlayStation 2 (2003, "Space Invaders Anniversary")

Nintendo DS (2005, "Space Invaders DS") : Contains Classic and New Age mode.

Sony PlayStation 2 (2005, "Taito Memories Vol. 1")

Sony PlayStation 2 (2005, "Taito Legends")

Microsoft XBOX (2005, "Taito Legends")

Sony PlayStation 2 (2005, "Taito Memories Vol. 2")

Sony PSP (2005, "Space Invaders - Galaxy Beat") : Japanese release.

* Computers :

Exidy Sorcerer (1978, "Invaders")

Microtan 65 (1980, "Space Invasion")

Tandy Color Computer (1981, "Space Assault")

Tandy Color Computer (1981, "Color Space Invaders")

Vic 20 ("Avenger")

Commodore C64 (1982, "Avenger")

Sinclair ZX-Spectrum (1982, "Invaders" - Artic Computing (UK))

MSX (1984)

Tandy Color Computer (1985, "Super Vaders")

Commodore C64 (1987, "Arcade Classics")

Tandy Color Computer 3 (1988, "Space Intruders") : wave 9 is similar to wave 5 of "Phoenix".

Commodore Amiga (1988, "Amoeba Invaders") : included in the cover disk that came with the ST/Amiga Format Magazine (November 1988, Issue number 5).

Atari ST (1989)

Zx-Spectrum (1993, "Invaders" - Design Design Software (UK)) : published exclusively on magazine covertape, appeared on side A of covertape "Your Sinclair issue 85: Christmas Collection 2".

PC [MS-DOS] (1997, "Champ Invaders" - CHAMProgramming)

VTech Laser-VZ ("Vz Invaders")

Apple II ("Apple Invader")

PC [MS Windows] (2005, "Taito Legends")

* Others :

LED handheld game (1980 - Entex (black version))

LED handheld game (1981 - Entex (grey version))

LCD handheld game (1982 - Tiger Electronics)

LCD handheld game with calculator (1982 - Tiger Electronics)

LCD handheld game (larger LCD) (1984 - Tiger Electronics)

VFD handheld game (19?? - Gakken)

LCD handheld game (1999 - Systema)

Arcade Legends : Space Invaders TV Game (2004 - Radica Games)

Mobile Phones (2007, "3D Space Invaders")


F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc