Titan Attacks: Space Invaders, but better! That's the long n' short of it, minus the long.
So what is the long of it? Well...
Firstly, presentation! The game takes on an 8-bit styled
aesthetic; The game's rather high res, but all graphics are styled in a blocky fashion with thick black outlines. Alongside this, particle effects are large pixels, and there's a bunch of filters and shaders on the game that make it look, um, arcade-y? Like, you've got scan lines, and a lot of things glow in this weird way as if you're, er, looking at a screen. It's hard to explain without just showing pictures of the game itself. There's also these more abstract effects where the game screen distorts or wraps around the the edges of the monitor; It was kinda cool the first few times it happened, but it did get on my nerves after a while. Thankfully, it only happens on menus, not during heated space battles, and you can toggle the various distortions off in the options menu (Options are Stroboscopics, Shader FX and Distortion FX).
There isn't a ton of music, but what's there is pretty jammin'. It's all techno, ranging from softer tracks, like during the main menu and shop, to more intense pieces during the actual stages. Stages are over pretty quick too, so it's never like you're listening to any one piece for an lengthy period of time, making them harder to get tired of. Still, there are audio sliders in the options menu for both sound effects and music in case you don't care for either. Might not wanna turn off sound effects though, as each hazard has it's own very distinct sound effect that'll keep you notified as to what's going on around you when things get more chaotic in the later stages; whether it's mines being laid, saucers flying across the top of the screen, or a charging laser beam, you'll more than likely need to keep an ear open for telltale signs of doom.
But enough of that, what about the actual game? Well, you control a tank going left and right across the ground and shoot aliens, most of which fire back at you and descend in some way or another. Occasionally you'll see a saucer flying at the top of the screen behind everything; it'll drop bonus-points, cash, shields, health, screen clearing bombs, or super cannons when you shoot it down, making the game a little easier on you if you can shoot it down. Alongside that, enemies have a chance to fall to the ground instead of exploding when you blast them, and you can shoot them again for a "skill-shot" for extra points and money (Though they'll damage you if they crash into you). Alongside THAT, there's a chance that a martian will parachute out of the ship. These guys are a little trickier, 'cause you can pick them up for cash bonuses, but you can also accidentally kill them for no point/cash bonus, and if you don't pick them up, they escape and result in a cash deduction equal to the cash bonus you could've gotten otherwise.
With all these basic factors in play, alongside all of the hazards, battles become about good spacial awareness and quick decisions about what course of action should be taken: "I could try and get that saucer for it's bonus, or I could catch that alien to keep me from losing money and get some bonus cash... The alien's floating over an area of heavy fire though... It might be more trouble than it's worth, and I won't get the saucer in time if I go to it. I don't want the cash penalty though... I think I'll kill it, then real quickly get the saucer." Of course, if you don't make that rambling monologue of a decision quick, you'll be space dust. You'll have a lot to think about, and not a lot of time to think about it. Gotta be fast! All of this is helped by the fact that you move around by shifting the mouse left and right, so your speed is bound to how fast you can move it, and thus, is more or less infinite. This allows you to go mach 5 underneath low hanging projectiles and ships, making it possible to make those quick choices under the pressure and chaos of a full on martian assault.
In between stages is a shop to spend the money ya get, obviously, on health and weapons. There are repairs, which get more expensive the less damaged your tank is, screen clearing bombs, which get more expensive as you buy them through the game, cannon damage, cannon fire rate, add-ons (Other weapons), and add-on fire rate. It's pretty straight forward, and it's not like you have a whole lot of options, especially since you can't choose what add-ons you get (You purchase them in a specific order). Even then, the add-ons don't really change the gameplay too much; You've got left-side laser, right-side bigger-laser, left-side rocket launcher, and right-side laser beam. It all just kind of adds up to a large flurry of projectiles that don't add much of a tactical edge, but they're useful nonetheless.
The design of the different worlds were also very nice. Every twenty stages, after a boss fight with the mother ship of that world (Which, while fun, were never all that noteworthy), you go to the next planet: Earth, The Moon, Mars, Saturn, and finally, the alien home world of Titan. The changes of scenery were nice, but the new hazards were what really differentiated them. You see, this game, while being a Space Invaders homage, incorporates elements from other really old space games/shooters. Earth is simply Space Invaders, nothing more. Starting with the Moon stages, you'll be showered with neon blue asteroid outlines that split when you shoot them, which is a homage to... Well Asteroids. The Mars stages have their ships spin around in lines before taking formation for a short period of time, the dive bombing your tank, which is a homage to Galaga. I don't actually know what the Saturn stages homage; The idea behind those stages is that massive hordes of ships will descend from the top of the screen and try to collide with you before warping back to the top. Finally, Titan introduces these trains of enemies that go back and forth and split/drop stationary ships when you shoot them, which is how the Millipede in the game of the same name behaved. Every planet provided something new to keep the shooting more varied and interesting, and did so by providing tribute to some similar titles of gaming's history; I'd say it worked!
And for you score-junkies out there, the game doesn't have to end by the time you beat the 100th stage! After laying waste to Titan's flagship, you're instantly placed back at the first stage of the game with all of your upgrades, the same score, and more durable enemies. I think this goes on endlessly until you die, but I wouldn't know since I never made it to the end boss on the second run. Anyway, this allows you keep building that hi-score and show off on the global leaderboards; y'know, if you're into that.
I do have a few minor complaints, such as how there's no invincibility period when being hit, and how some stages have layouts that'll corner you very easily. Mix both factors together, and you've got a recipe for a near insta-death. It doesn't happen TOO often though, so whatever.
Anyway, I gotta wrap this up. It's a very nice looking and fun Score Attack/Space Invaders & Friends inspired game. It's a bit on the pricey side for what it is though... I'd only really get it if it's in a bundle, on sale, or you know someone who's into the Score-Attack genre/Looking for a late 70's gaming nostalgia trip. In those cases, I'd really recommend it!
But in the end, it's all just my humble opinion. Cross-reference mine with others and see if it's a game for you.
Bottom Line: Titan Attacks is a game you get to shoot aliens and beat Admiral Nyaruko's 10 DIGIT SCORE. Jesus Christ, At least I'm in the top 10... For now...