Review by Retro

"THE space shooter"

I don't know many people my age who haven't played Galaga at one time or another. Galaga is a classic space shooter in which you control a spaceship at the bottom of the screen and attempt to exterminate all the aliens that are moving back and forth in the galaxy above you. Galaga wasn't the first game of its kind (Space Invaders and Galaxian are two that came before it), but it was definitely the best of its kind back in the day.

Why do I think Galaga is the best old space shooter? Well, it basically took the element of both Space Invaders and Galaxian, and improved vastly upon them. Like Space Invaders, Galaga is a space shooter involving a spaceship in which you try and send the aliens a message by, well.......killing them. Similar to Galaxian, Galaga involves the aliens having the ability to fly and glide down at you from time to time. And of course, like both games, Galaga doesn't have separate environments; it's just the same one over and over again, only that the enemies get much faster and even more aggressive. But Galaga added some things into the mix that make it better than both of its predecessors.

First of all, Galaga has better sound and graphics than both of the games that paved the road for it to travel down. The flashing stars, the spaceship, and the aliens themselves look a lot more impressive in every way. You could even say the sounds were sort of innovative at the time; the effects and background sounds were more crisp and they just sounded like they'd come from space.

But of course, where Galaga improved the most on the already established genre of space shooters was with its fun and engaging gameplay. As I mentioned, the aliens still use the basic attacks of flying and dropping fire at your ship that serves as the target, but, in Galaga there are a few cool extras. There is a certain type of enemy that resembles a claw in the game that you have to hit twice in order to destroy it. That same enemy will sometimes swoop down, stop all of a sudden, and drop down a sort of tractor beam that is hungry for a delicious spaceship that it can take captive to the top of the screen. That may sound as basic as riding a bike, but back in Galaga's heyday (early 80s), that was something to see.

In the later levels, many of the enemies split into three separate beings instead of their one original self, providing an even better challenge. If you shoot all three of these morphs that used to be as one, you will earn some slick bonus points.

But here's the kicker: What really really makes this game the king of the classic space shooters is that it has bonus levels. After so many regular stages in which you simply clear the screen of all the extraterrestrials (or E.T.s), you will be taken to a bonus level in which all of your familiar out of this world enemies fly around above you without dropping stray fire or even trying to suicide bomb you. If you shoot all of the ones that are in a group before they go off the screen, you'll earn extra points, which can edge you closer to obtaining a valuable extra life. After you finish a memorable bonus level, it tells you your hit percentage and how many enemies you killed (thoughtful). Galaga will do the same for the entire game after you get a Game Over. For the time, that was very innovative.

Most of the time when you go to an arcade these days, you won't see very many of the old and graying arcade games still in stock, but you will see a few of them from time to time. Other than Ms. Pac-Man, I see Galaga in more arcades than I do any of the other oldies but goodies. That's because it's an enduring classic that every generation of gaming enthusiasts can enjoy. Galaga is one of my favorite arcade games and it's always fun trying to get the high score. Without a doubt, if there was a such thing as an arcade or a video game hall of fame, Galaga would be in it.

GRAPHICS - For the time when it first came out, Galaga's graphics were great, and they're still appealing. The spaceship is designed quite nicely, the aliens look like mean red butterflies, yellow and blue bees, scorpions, etc., and their animations are cool. The flashing stars in the background are a nice touch and may make you feel like you're flying through outer space. All of this adds up to a nice atmospheric environment to do battle in. 9/10

SOUND - The makers of Galaga successfully made the sounds futuristic and like they should in a space shooter. The sounds are crystal clear, pleasing, catchy to a degree, and the music in between the stages and bonus levels isn't too bad either. 9/10

CONTROL - The control, even though you don't have to do anything but move the joystick left and right and press the button to shoot, is well done. However, at certain times when you need to scoot over a little quicker in order to avoid some oncoming fire or an approaching enemy who would gladly give his own life to murder you, it would be better if the ship could move over just a little faster. 8/10

REPLAY VALUE - I don't know if there is an ending to Galaga or not, but I do know that there are at least 21 stages. Anytime I see this game in an arcade, I always play it to see if I can get the high score and stare at the screen in with pride. It's also a good title to play to just have some good old classic fun. To put it short, this one is loaded with replay value! You may not play it several times in a row, but it's always fun to play it when you have a few minutes to burn before heading into the theater to watch a movie, or at any other time! 9/10

OVERALL - There are not many arcade games that are more classic than Galaga. It's like the Pac-Man of space shooters. Everything about it was great back in the day, and it's still great in the new millennium. What more can be said? 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/08/01, Updated 10/27/03

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