How to play Google's new AR Space Invaders game on Android and iOS

Two iPhones on a yellow background showing an AR Space Invaders game
(Image credit: Google)

Space Invaders turns 45 this year – and rather than honor the game with one of the best Google Doodles, the search giant and its original developer Taito have instead made a new AR-powered shoot 'em up for your Android or iOS phone.

The Space Invaders: World Defense game, which was announced at Google IO 2023 in May, is now available to download from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store

As it's an AR (augmented reality) game, this new version of Space Invaders is an outdoor-only experience and asks you to shoot down its familiar aliens as they appear from behind the rooftops and buildings around you.

Like Pokemon Go and other AR games, you also get to compete on the high scores tables with other players in your neighborhood – and given the game only came out today, there's a good chance you'll rise to the top of the rankings.

Google says the game isn't just plastering cartoon aliens onto your camera's view either – it also adapts to your real-world environment, including your location, time and weather.

Because it's been built on Google's ARCore platform, which first landed in 2018 and doesn't require any special hardware, Space Invaders: World Defense also runs on most phones (including iPhones), although tablets sadly aren't supported. Here's how to get cracking with Google and Taito's new retro time-sink.

How to play Space Invaders: World Defense

  • Minimum requirements: Android phone (running Android 11 or above), or iPhone (running iOS 16).

Two iPhones showing Google's AR Space Invaders game

(Image credit: Future)

Once you've downloaded Space Invaders: World Defense from either the Google Play Store (for Android) or Apple App Store (for iPhones), the setup process is pretty quick. 

Hit 'Start Game' and you'll be taken to a bunch of privacy and data agreements, followed by an approval page for location tracking. While not essential, it's also a good idea to plug in some headphones for a slightly more immersive alien-shooting experience.

You'll then be presented with your 'Mission Brief', showing your location and weather, before being asked to track a spacecraft around your real-world environment to calibrate the game. Once you've done this, you'll have to stay in that spot or you'll be presented with a "you're too far away" error message until you return.

An iPhone on a yellow background showing the Game Over screen on a Space Invaders game

(Image credit: Future)

As you'd expect for a Space Invaders game, the action itself is pretty simple. The game has to be played with your phone in portrait orientation. Keep an eye on the edge of your screen for arrows pointing to the aliens, then drag the crosshairs over them to start shooting them down.

You score points for shooting down aliens – get enough of these and you'll progress to the parallel invader dimension of the game, where your path is set and you simply have to focus on gunning down aliens.

After a few warm-ups, you'll quickly be troubling the High Scores tables, which will also reward you with special bonuses and power ups. Just bear in mind that it's best to avoid playing near rivers and roads, lest you get a bit too excited about aliens and forget about the real-world dangers lurking around you.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.