I’ll admit, I do love a good shooting game, and by shooting game I don’t mean First person shooter! I mean a “sh’mup”, a genre where you’re likely to control a space ship and you shoot things with lasers. Oh yeah… Now, I had experience with Space Invaders, as I had it on a Arcade compilation on a tape for the Commodore 64. Later on in my 16-bit days I played a lot of Super RType on my friend’s SNES, a little later on I found a love for Gradius on a Famiclone that my cousin once got for Christmas. Then there’s Ikaruga on the Gamecube and so on… But there’s one “Sh’mup” that really gets the love from me.
My love for Galaga started when I was about eleven or twelve years old in the mid 90s when I went on holiday with my Mother to Hunstanton. Rather than doing the typical Searles Holiday Camp vacation. We stayed at a rather nice little Bed and Breakfast with an indoor swimming pool inside! Mind you the indoor swimming pool was the size of two large hot tubs, but it was still impressive that they crammed a swimming pool in a small Bed & Breakfast. But as I walked into the Bed & Breakfast, I saw an arcade machine that was turned off, it was still attached to the wall socket, but it was switched off; I walk up to it, flicked the switch on the wall socket, and saw a game boot it, it was Galaxian, and what was better, it was set to free play!
I loved the game, it was simply an evolution to Space Invaders that I would play on my Commodore 64. The aliens would swoop down and try to kill you by either shooting lasers at you or crashing into you. Plus the ship actually displays when a laser is ready to shoot as you can see the readied laser as a yellow line on the top on your space ship.
Now, I can’t remember when or how I feel in love with Galaxian’s sequel, Galaga, but from what I remember, it was a compilation pack, so possibly Namco Museum, or another Namco collection, but at tghe time I was hunting for Galaxian, but I couldn’t find it, but I found Galaga, and I was telling myself “I don’t want Galaga, I want Galaxian!”. But I played Galaga anyway, and then said to myself “Hell yeah! This is actually better!”. What made this better than it’s predecessor, were the new ways the enemies would swoop down to attack, and the enemy could steal your spaceship and lose a life.
But that’s where the game gets interesting, because you can claim the ship back and join the two Spaceships together to get…
Double Ship! Hell yeah!!!!!
Once you get yourself the double ship, you are able to shot two lasers at once, which is essential to perfecting the game’s Bonus levels and clearing levels quicker. This gameplay mechanic itself I believe was what started the idea of “Power ups make you take more hits”. Without this Gameplay mechanic, Mario might lose a life on a single hit, and no mushrooms to make him bigger to take a hit before loosing a life. This for sure is an evolution not just to Sh’mups, but to gaming itself.
So here’s a Salute to you Galaga!
Before I end this though, let me go over a few sequels to Galaxian/Galaga series…
Pretty much a remake of the Original Galaga, made in Japan in 1988, and the US in 1990. Pretty much it adds new gameplay mechanics such as exploding enemies, where it’s blast radius can kill other enemies and there’s an item you can collect where you can skip levels or find new levels not seen in a typical play-through. There’s a TurboGrafx version of this game that is really good, and it’s worth getting if you have one, otherwise it’s available on the Wii Virtual Console for 600 Nintendo Points.
Galaxian 3 is a behemoth of a machine it’s the size of a couple of office cubicles put together and supports 6 players in their own chair. There’s a huge screen inside, and each player controls a coloured cross-hair where you play a “one rails” shooting game where the SpaceShip would move by itself and each player plays as the guns. I’ve never played this, but I have seen one in the wild when I was about 10 years old and I was outside of Disney Land Paris, and one of these were outside an arcade with a gyroscopic After Burner near the door. I honestly can’t imagine how much it would cost to play one of these, or even how much the arcade paid for it. But being close to Disney Land Paris, I can only imagine they did make money from it with all the kids visiting the theme park!
A bit of an oddity this one, this is Galaga game that aloud you to move in 8 directions rather than the traditional 2 directions. The game has graphics that share from both Galaga, and Galaga ’90. The new gameplay mechanic in this game was that there’s a weapon you can collect that allows you to abduct the aliens, rather than the aliens abducting you, and with your new alien buddies, they would act as this games double ship, however you can collect up to six aliens, meaning you had the chance to shoot a whopping seven lasers at once! However you have a bigger chance of being hit as movement becomes limited. Some Arcade cabinets in the US replaces it’s “GaPlus” name for “Galaga 3”. You can download this onto the Wii for 500 Nintendo Points (600 Points in the US) from the Wii Shop Channel.
The Latest in the Galaga series, released on the 360 Market Place, and the PlayStation Network Store. Galaga Legion is a bit of a black sheep, as it doesn’t really follow the original Galaga gameplay mechanics too well. Rather it’s more akin to GaPlus, but includes the ability to place satellite guns on the play field in one of four directions, up, down, left and right with the right analogue stick. These will auto fire until you press the bumper buttons to bring them back to the ship. Typically a legion of aliens will have one big alien, and shooting the big alien will cause the smaller aliens with it to die with the bigger alien. In similar vein to GaPlus, a black hole can be collected to suck up aliens, and use them as extra fire power against the alien hordes. Galaga Legions DX was released a year after, and plays a bit more like a twin shooter such as Robotron 2084 and Geometry Wars.