It’s amazing what you can find when you’re looking for something else. Over the last few months, my Space Invaders cocktail has become less and less reliable. While searching the ‘net for possible solutions to its problem (which turned out to be only an easy power supply adjustment), I discovered Braze Technologies Space Invaders Multi Game Kit on arcadeshop.com. According to the description, the kit installs in minutes, and allows you to play these black and white classics on your original Space Invaders or Space Invaders Deluxe.
And all for only $59. I was sold.
In this age of e-commerce, I’m amazed when you can’t punch in your credit card number and place an order online, and strangely enough arcadeshop.com only takes orders via telephone. Not a huge deal since they do have a toll free order line. One very quick phone call was made on Monday and I had the kit in my hands on Thursday. That’s a pretty decent turnaround time in my opinion.
The ‘kit’ is actually just one board. You remove a chip from your SI boardset, plug it into the socket on the kit board, and then plug the board in where the chip was. It’s a good thing that installation really is that simple, as no instructions were provided at all. In any case it probably took me longer to the find the key for my SI cabinet than it took to actually install the kit. There really is nothing at all to it.
Enough talk, let’s play some games!
Upon powering up for the first time after installation instead of the familiar “PLAY SPACE INVADERS” that I’m used to seeing, the game now runs through a quick self-test mode before presenting the game select menu. You move left/ right to choose a game and press the fire button to select. Within five minutes of opening the box I was playing one of my all time favorites, Lunar Rescue, on my Space Invaders table! There’s just nothing about it that isn’t cool! Once you’re ready to choose another game, you press the player one and player two start buttons at the same time to exit the game and return to the select menu. All of the included games are Space Invaders inspired, but wasn’t everything of that era?
Being that my machine is a cocktail table, I was worried that two player mode may not work correctly with some of these games. I was unsure if they were all available in a cocktail version and I didn’t know if the screen would flip on all of them when it was player two’s turn. As it turned out, that fear was completely unfounded. One of the included games (Space Laser) is one player only, but the other seven games work correctly in two player mode.
But wait, there’s more!
In addition to allowing your SI to play seven more games, this little gizmo has a couple other tricks up its sleeve.
As I mentioned earlier, it goes through a short self-test before the game starts up. According to the Arcadeshop site, this is useful for “debugging broken boardsets”. I’m not at all certain how to use this feature however since it didn’t come with any kind of documentation at all.
The board will also save high scores even after being powered off, something that a stock Space Invaders does not do.
There is also a configuration screen for each game, allowing you to set options that might normally be associated with dip switches on the original hardware. These include settings like the number of lives and free play.
If you own a Space Invaders or a Space Invaders Deluxe, you really do owe it to yourself to pick one of these up. It was less than $70 shipped and I consider it to be money well spent. I love Space Invaders as much as any arcade geek, but the more games, the merrier, right? The black and white video game era didn’t last very long and many of these games are often overlooked, which is a shame because there’s some fantastic gaming to be found here. If you can get eight of them to run on the original hardware, and in a way that’s non-invasive and 100% reversible, there’s no reason not to.
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