Hey Aliens: I’ll Mash You Up! is an XBLIG created by an indie developer named Kurikatos with gameplay based upon the classic Space Invaders. At first glance, it appears like a true remake of the 1970’s arcade game but in fact has many key differences, and not all of them being for the better.
The first thing you will notice is the graphics are a bit more modernized. There are actually several graphics packs that players can smoothly switch between in the middle of the action which changes the entire appearance of the game. One of the packs brings back the retro look. Another makes the enemies look sort of like flying jukeboxes. This is a pretty neat addition and adds some variety to the game as it is fun to quickly change the graphics back and forth repeatedly. Unfortunately, this is pretty much where the improvements end.
One major difference in this game from Space Invaders is that the enemies do not get faster as each round goes on. As you destroy enemy ships in Space Invaders, the remaining ones become faster and faster, and shoot at you much more frequently. The pace of the music picks up and there is a real sense of urgency to complete the level. Hey Aliens: I’ll Mash You Up! is much more slower-paced. Instead of getting faster, enemies get tougher. Rather than becoming harder to hit or shooting at you more often, they simply take more shots to destroy. This ends up making the game boring as it ultimately devolves into pumping round after round into each ship while you’re never in any real danger.
The original Space Invaders also demanded timing and accuracy because you could only fire one missile at a time. If you missed, you had to wait until the tiny pixel representing your missile was off the screen before firing another. Trying to hit the UFO’s at the top of the screen took good positioning and a little bit of luck.
Hey Aliens: I’ll Mash You Up! allows for rapid fire by holding down (or mashing) the shoot button. This makes hitting UFO’s all too easy because you can just lay down a wall of fire for them to casually fly into. What’s more, UFO’s don’t just give you some bonus points but are good for entire extra lives! When you couple this with the fact that the enemy ships do not get faster as you reduce their number, an easy way to job the system is to destroy all of the enemy ships except for one, and then wait for a bunch of UFO’s and wrack up the extra lives. Not that you’ll ever need them.
The sound effects are also pretty weird. Every time you shoot, you hear the game’s developer literally saying the word “pew.” It’s actually kind of funny at first, but the novelty quickly wears off when you have to listen to different variations of him saying “pew” hundreds of times. It’s like having your little brother in your ear and it gets annoying. The game’s credits screen even seems to acknowledge this fact by referring to them as “annoying vocal sounds.” Admittedly, the unique sound effects do give the game some personality and flare, but it would have been better with an option to switch to classic arcade-like sounds as well as graphics.
Hey Aliens: I’ll Mash You Up! doesn’t really accomplish what it sets out to do. It’s just too different, gameplay wise. Rather than tickling the nostalgia in old school gamers by combining old gameplay with new features, it really just makes you want to go back and play Space Invaders instead.