Lonely Planet Writer

Celebrate 40 years of Space Invaders with a giant game in Tokyo

It’s hard to believe (and even harder to accept), but classic arcade game Space Invaders turns 40 this year. To celebrate, developer Taito Corp is hosting a giant game at Roppongi Hills’ 52nd-floor observatory, Tokyo City View. And by giant, we mean giant: the game (which involves shooting down aliens) is being projected on the observatory’s soaring glass windows, creating a screen that is roughly seven metres high by 15 metres wide, reports the Asahi Shimbun.

Giant Space Invaders exhibition, Tokyo
This photo taken on January 15, 2018 shows Space Invaders GigaMax video game being displayed on the windows of the Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower’s observatory, Tokyo City View during a Play Space Invaders exhibition in Tokyo. Photo by: KAZUHIRO NOGY/AFP/Getty Images

With glass for a backdrop, the game will appear superimposed on the cityscape – meaning it will look like eight-pixel aliens are descending on Tokyo. Up to ten people can play together at the same time.

Celebrating 40 years of Space Invaders in Tokyo
Giant Space Invaders game in Tokyo. Photo by: KAZUHIRO NOGY/AFP/Getty Images

When Space Invaders debuted in 1978 it was a sensation. As the first game to use a CPU and music that tracked with the action, it revolutionised gaming. And even though graphics were super primitive back then, the aliens (or ‘sprites’) turned out to be pretty iconic (not to mention, cute). Incidentally, international street artist Invader has left quite a few mosaic sprites behind on the streets of Tokyo over the last decade.

Godzilla head
Godzilla statue planted atop the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. Photo by: DavidCallan/Getty Images

In the last couple of years, Japan has been all about leveraging its vintage pop culture characters, from the giant, fire-breathing Godzilla statue planted atop the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku to PM Abe Shinzo’s appearance at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony dressed as Mario (from Nintendo’s beloved Super Mario Bros games).

The event, ‘Play! Space Invaders Exhibition’ runs until 31 January. For details, see Tokyo City View’s website.

By Rebecca Milner