It's been 30 years since Space Invaders started, but the game is making a huge comeback. This year we'll see both Space Invaders Extreme for the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable, as well as Space Invaders Get Even on the Wii, which lets you take control of the invading aliens and have them smash up cities. Like a line of aliens marching inexorably downward, the game continues to make its impact on our culture. But how much do you know about these pixellated extraterrestrials who are intent on wiping us out? Learn all the facts, and see a gallery — including more screens from the new Wii version — after the jump.

  • In 1978 Taito was a Japanese company that was struggling to make a profit on Pachinko machines. With the rise of electronic arcade games, Tomohiro Nishikado designed Space Invaders and created history.

  • The game was inspired by Atari's Breakout, by the descriptions of the aliens in H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, and by a freaky dream that Nishikado had about aliens appearing in the sky instead of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Which means you get lines and lines of relentlessly invading creatures, who all happen to look like an octopoids.

  • Arcades opened in Japan featuring nothing but rows and rows of Space Invaders games, so if you thought your corner convenience store with Galaga and Pole Position hardly had any choices, think again.
  • The game was so popular in Japan that it caused a major shortage of coins, and they had to quadruple yen production to keep up with the demand.

  • Space Invaders was one of the first games to feature endless gameplay, as previous games had all worked on a timer. If you were good, you could go on blasting aliens forever... or until the game ran out of memory.

  • The upright cabinet version of the game in arcades actually had the monitor below the eyeline of the player, and the gamefield was reflected onto a piece of plastic on the back of the cabinet, which had cool artwork painted on it. The resulting combination had the gamefield on top of a lunar landscape.

  • The original Taito version of the game used joysticks, but the American version from Midway used buttons to control the laser cannon.

  • The game ran on an Intel 8080 as its processor, running at 2 MHz.

  • It was estimated that the game pulled in $500 million in its first year of release in the arcades alone, which still makes it one of the most profitable games ever developed.

  • In 1980 a version of Space Invaders was released for the Atari 2600, and it quickly became one of the "must have" games for the system.

  • Versions came out for other home gaming consoles, but due to copyright infringement they would have to be retitled. Like Space Armada for the Intellivision.

  • Coca-Cola even asked Atari to create a version for the 2600 called Pepsi Invaders, featuring invading letters spelling out Pepsi, so you could blast them out of the sky. Coke gave the 125 cartridges out to its employees.
    You Can Only Delay, Never Stop, The Space Invaders

  • Numerous sequels have appeared in arcades over the years, including Space Invaders Part II (or Space Invaders Deluxe), Return of the Invaders, Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV (or Super Space Invaders '91), Space Invaders DX, and Akkan-vaders (or Space Invaders '95: The Attack Of The Lunar Loonies).

  • Guillaume Reymond created a human version of the game in 2006, which you can watch in all of its glory right here:

  • Shigeru Miyamoto, who created Donkey Kong and a slew of other games for Nintendo, has said that Space Invaders was what inspired him to get into game development.

  • The cover for Boston's "Don't Look Back" album was inspired by Space Invaders.You Can Only Delay, Never Stop, The Space Invaders

  • In an episode of Futurama, Fry fights off invading aliens because he's a master of Space Invaders. All he needs to rock the game are a two-liter bottle of Shasta, and a Rush mix tape.