Worried you’re going to be woefully ill-prepared for an inevitable attack by invaders from outer space one day? Google and Taito—the company who released the original version of Space Invaders back in 1978—have a new version of the game that brings the invaders into the real world using augmented reality tricks through your mobile device, and it will finally be available for download starting tonight.
Augmented reality is a technology that has been hyped for several years now, and while we may finally see its true potential realized when Apple’s Vision Pro headset eventually finds its way to consumers, there have been a handful of AR success stories so far, including Niantic’s Pokémon Go which remains a popular mobile game and a cash cow for the company, seven years after its debut. Although Niantic has followed up with other AR-focused games, including one themed around Jurassic World which had players running around their cities hunting for rare dinos to catch, Google is hoping that a partnership with one of the earliest video game developers is the missing ingredient that will make its new AR experience a hit.
Originally revealed a day after Google I/O 2023 where the company announced, among many other things, that it would be expanding access to the 3D data it creates and collects to make Google Maps feel more immersive through the Google Streetscape Geometry API, Space Invaders: World Defense will appear to play out in the real world through a live video feed from a mobile device’s camera. The aliens will be able to fly behind structures and terrain, pop up over rooftops, and will appear to emerge from warp holes that materialize on the side of buildings.
As with Pokémon Go, players are encouraged to “explore their neighborhoods to discover new Space Invaders and score points by taking them down,” attempt to top localized leaderboards, and “share their achievements on social media with an AR selfie” that makes players look like they’re piloting the virtual spaceship they fly into battle in the game.
The game will be available for both Android and iOS devices today (it should already be accessible in both Apple and Google’s app stores at the time of writing) and will be compatible with “ARCore supported devices” running Android 11.0+ or iOS 16.0+. Looking at the list of supported devices in Google’s ARCore documentation, it appears to encompass smartphones and tablets that are already quite a few years old, including the original Pixel phone, the 2nd generation iPhone SE, and even the iPhone 6S.