Tuesday, July 5, 2011

bargain.bin retro review: TI Invaders (TI 99/4A)

TI Invaders for the Texas Instrument TI 99/4A home computer was the first game I actually owned and played at home, and I absolutely loved it. It did after all look and play so much better than Space Invaders on my cousins' Atari 2600 and was actually better than the eponymous game glimpsed in arcades. Or at lest, well, so I fiercely believed.

I also remember being rather good at it too, but that was probably the result of spending more hours playing TI Invaders than anyone else in my then-limited social circle. This beautiful cartridge, you see, was constantly replacing boring math and alphabet games, just like nature intended it to:

The game itself, a bold Space Invaders clone, felt totally unique and incredibly high-tech. Little did I know back then that the cheap yet powerful TI 99/4A my father had bought off a colleague was an early 16-bit machine. All I cared for was its one-button joystick, the impressive looking keyboard and its infuriating lack of a pause function, the inclusion of which would make mandatory sleep-breaks a mere temporary stop to my high score beating attempts.

Nowadays, in our era where everything comes with pause buttons and save options and despite the fact that I always keep the old Texas Instruments micro close, I rarely plug the thing in. Connecting it to a modern TV can be quite a problem, you see, but, as I recently re-discovered, a problem worth solving. TI Invaders remains a fantastic game. Possibly the best retro iteration of Space Invaders ever. I mean, really, look at these graphics. How many 1981 game could be this wondrous?

The game is slightly faster than your average invaders shooting offering, sports a lovely death animation, has a unique scoring system and way more variety than even the arcade it perfectly apes itself. Every three or so levels a new kind of invading alien appears -all of them sporting unique appearances and abilities- two difficulty levels allow you to start off with a less brutal game, an impressive variety of smart little touches enhances the overall experience and then there's the bonus stage that really spices things up. Obviously, constantly improving ones high-score remains as addictive and enjoyable as ever...

Where to get it:
TI Invaders (TI 99/4A): eBay.com, eBay.co.uk
Via emulation: Win994a

More info on TI Invaders:
More bargain.bin Retro Reviews:
King's Quest I
Target; Renegade
Sensible Soccer


  1. You sure do love you some TI Invaders. And I agree - it's the best SI clone I've ever played. There was a guy here selling a TI/994A and a handful of games for $20 on Craigslist but if I bought every cheap used system and console that I was able to find for $20 well I wouldn't have any room left. Wait - that's EXACTLY where I'm at right now and why! But still thinking about it. He didn't say if TI Invaders was among the games...

  2. Hilariously, I had this as the ONLY game for our TI/99a, which my family dumped for a Commodore Plus/4 a Christmas later. My Dad must have had a thing for computers with a / in their names.

  3. Chances are it is among the games. It's pretty common really; and quite cheap. Oh, and I really wish I could buy old systems for peanuts. 20$... I mean, really...

  4. @ Anonymous: Now, that's a dad with an eclectic taste in home micros. Lucky you :) Mind you, TI Invaders was arguably -with the exception of Infocom's offerings- the best TI game released.