Review by JLP

"Galaga is Galaga is Galaga"

In the Xbox Live Arcade Cannon, a dominating characteristic of many of the available games is that they were originally released in real-life arcades. This is perhaps fitting, as, when you think of arcades, do you picture games like Pac-Man and Joust, or Marble Blast Ultra? Many of those games define the arcade experience (at least at the time), with a hard difficulty level, simple gameplay, and a high focus on getting the best score possible.

Galaga is one of those games. It was released in 1981 as a follow-up to the game Galaxian. Galaga sums up the classic early vertical shooter game. You control a spaceship that can strafe left and right, along with firing missiles. Going up against you is a swarm of alien space bugs. In waves, they come onto the screen and fly into formation. Once in formation, the bugs periodically dive and shoot missiles of their own, trying to kill you. If you manage to kill all the bugs, the game moves onto the next stage.

Of course, there is more to Galaga than that. There are “challenging stages” where waves of bugs fly onto the screen like normal, but do not move into formation, instead exiting the screen after flying around a short while. Your objective on these stages is to shoot as many of the bugs as possible, getting you a higher score.

One of Galaga's most defining quirks is its “dual fighter” feature. By letting one of the bugs suck your fighter up with a tractor beam, and subsequently shooting down the bug (which is holding your captured ship), you can use the two ships simultaneously, giving you twice the firepower. There is also a two-player mode, where one player takes over after the other dies (and then the first plays when the second dies, and so on.)

That's basically it to the original arcade game. So, what does the 360 release have to offer? There are leaderboards (online high score rankings). For a game with a strong score focus, this is a welcome feature. Also, notably, there is a continue feature that allows you to start a new game at any level previously reached. This makes the game easier (and more fun), for the less skilled (like myself.) Unfortunately, the game is missing the two player feature, which would have made it more fun online or off

Like every 360 release, Galaga sports a set of achievements. Most involve shooting down unique enemies (that only appear rarely, and only in certain stages). Some involve getting to a specific stage (10, 20, and 30). Getting all of them is made much easier with the continue feature. Although it might seem impossible for people like me to get to level 30 from stage 1, being able to continue makes it only a question of endurance. Most of the achievements can be gotten by this method (inching through the game, one level at a time).

Although the continue feature does make the achievements (relatively) easy to get, they do require somewhat of a time investment, as it's possible to get stuck on a certain stage and have to replay it countless times to finally clear it. Still, compared to achievements on games like Smash TV, these are a cakewalk.

The graphics are the classic ones the game always had, ripped straight from 1981. However, rather than the playing field take up the whole screen, it is surrounded by a border made from the graphics from the arcade machine's cabinet. This looks nice, to some extent, but playing the game in full screen would have been nicer. The sound is basic ancient video game stuff, simplistic but catchy (and repetitive.)

Overall, like I said in my headline, Galaga is Galaga is Galaga. This release hasn't fundamentally changed from the one that came out over 20 years ago. This isn't necessarily a bad or good thing. If you liked it then, you will most likely like it now. If you loathed it then, the same applies. Personally, I think Galaga was a great and innovative game at the time, and, while showing its age, still maintains a high fun factor. It's cheap and has easy achievement points. I'd say it's worth a buy.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/27/06

Would you recommend this
Recommend this
Review? Yes No

Got Your Own Opinion?

Submit a review and let your voice be heard.