In the world of light gun games the alien invasion is pretty basic. As an enemy you don’t feel any remorse wailing away on their bodies with bullets. And the plot is as thin as “Alien bad, go shoot them”. Yet despite all these things games like this still have a relatively high innate level of fun.
Midway is no stranger to the genre, with classics like CarnEvil and Terminator 2: Judgment Day under their belt. Following many other genre releases we are given Invasion: The Abductors. It has all the frills you’d expect from the genre: bad guys popping up all over the screen, weapon powerups scattered across the levels, human civilians running in front of you for no reason, the works!
There really isn’t anything that makes Invasion stand out though. The arcade cabinet has a pretty snazzy classic looking alien gun as the controller, but that’s about it. The game released in 1999, a time when 3D games were the norm, and arcades were kind of dying. Classics like the aforementioned Terminator 2 for example were way more likely to eat my quarters in the arcade, so titles like Invasion were reserved for arcades that didn’t have better games to play.
Something unique to many arcade games, especially light gun games, is their exclusivity. A ton of arcade titles never saw releases outside of the arcade, and even more saw inferior home console ports. While it’s much easier now to recreate the arcade experience at home with technologically better consoles, in 1999 you weren’t going to get a game like Invasion anywhere other than the arcade. I think Midway and other developers were banking on that, and were creating short experiences to enjoy at the movie theater before your intended entertainment started. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t mean we’re given great games. We get Invasion. The blandest of exciting entertainment.
There are better shooters out there, but like just about every arcade game out there (haha!) I still say give it a whirl. The games are intrinsically fun, and will help you pass some time before moving on to the next thing.
*Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL 2019