Space Invaders: A legitimate gaming classic. The sort of gaming legend that even your parents have heard of, maybe even played in an arcade way back before you were less than a twinkle in their eye. Having had numerous updates and re-releases since, nothing beats the original.
Cazzarion arrives on the Xbox as part of the Xbox Live Creators Program – a partnership where Xbox owners can self-publish onto the Xbox Store without concept approval providing Xbox Live is integrated into the game. It is heavily inspired by Space Invaders but throws a few extras in to help separate it from one of the forefathers of gaming.
To start with, Cazzarion launches with three different modes, so that’s already two more than the original Space Invaders did. First up is the aptly named Space Invader mode, which is almost a carbon copy of the namesake, with just a few simple changes. Those spaceships with that annoying sound effect that appear every so often at the top of the screen but offered big bonus points? They’re gone. So too are the buildings you used to be able to hide behind. These are replaced by more aggressive ships that will sometimes break formation and fly down towards you. It’s thankful then that your firepower is upgraded upon reaching certain score thresholds.
Another mode – UFO Attack – has you fight off waves of flying saucers that come down from the top of the screen. At first there will only be two enemy ships on screen at any one time, but as time goes on this number increases. Once again, your firepower increases the longer you stay alive, but this mode is all about survival.
Space Shooter is the final mode and plays akin to a top-down vertical shooter, only your ship remains in place and enemies fly down from the top of the screen.
These modes are all varied enough that they warrant separate names, and all feature uniquely designed ships to further differentiate them. Each mode is also more forgiving than those that have come before; a few hits can be landed on your ship before being properly destroyed, but then this is counterbalanced by enemy ships requiring several hits themselves.
Modes such as Space Shooter and UFO Attack do feel slightly restricted though as the ship you control can only move along the bottom of the screen, rather than be able to fly around the whole screen and have ships come in from all angles – but that would be heading very much into Asteroids territory.
Throughout these modes – and the main menu – there is a very attractive background scrolling down the screen showing different planets. In fact, for the most part, the graphics are pretty decent; in Space Invaders it is quite obvious some ship designs are flipped over on the horizontal axis as the ship adjacent to it. However, the design of them is so that when you are blasting them across the galaxy, you hardly get the chance to notice.
The menus can feel a bit fiddly at times. Any of the four main A/B/X/Y buttons will select the option highlighted, and only the analog sticks work to navigate the menus. There is also no way to finish a game early and return to the main menu, aside from letting yourself die. Pressing the Menu button will bring up the main menu again and cancel any progress, there is no pause option. I found this out the hard way when I thought I was pausing the game and selected ‘Exit Game’ only to be booted back out to the Xbox Dashboard.
Being part of the Creators Program, Cazzarion unfortunately does not feature any Xbox One achievements. However, that doesn’t mean that the game does not award you for progression. As well as the weapon upgrades in-game, there is an awards section in the main menu where you can see your highest award for each game mode. These are all tied into your scores and each score bracket has a unique badge to award you. There are also cumulative awards based on your total score across each game to aim for.
Cazzarion does have a free trial mode for those wanting to see what it is like, which grants access to the game for 24 hours.
To be perfectly honest, the games available through the Creators Program can be difficult to find when searching the Xbox Store; you really need to be looking for it as you will unlikely not just stumble upon it. For Cazzarion, that’s a real shame, because it’s a decent space shooter given the context of it. The gameplay is just the right amount of challenging and it helps satiate my Gamerscore cravings by including score tracking and in-game awards. It is also proof to me that there will be undoubtedly be more hidden gems in the Creators Program worth uncovering.