A Re-imagining of a Classic Designed for High Score Competition
Re-imagining a game that many consider a classic can be tricky. Not only does a developer need to make an older property seem fresh and exciting to a newer generation of gamers, they must do so without alienating the more nostalgic crowd. Last year, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX proved that it was not only possible to accomplish this, but it was possible to make a great game in the process. Galaga, the classic arcade top-down shooter, has received similar treatment in Galaga Legions DX, made by the same team behind the stellar Pac-Man title. It’s fast paced, frantic, and will get high score junkies everywhere hooked for a long time to come.
Previous Galaga games have all followed the same formula. As a lone starfighter, you would fire at waves upon waves of alien insects, known as Galaga, all swarming in predetermined group patterns. Your ship was only able to shoot straight ahead, forcing you to evade if any enemies got past your barrage of laser fire. 2008’s Galaga Legions added stationary turrets, known as satellites, which could be placed around a stage to cover a small area.
Galaga Legions DX, however, breaks this formula. The satellites are now a part of your ship and act as it’s primary guns. This allows you to shoot in any direction at any given time. Controls are that of a basic dual-joystick shooter with the left stick or directional pad used for movement and the right analog stick used to aim and fire your weapon. It’s by no means an original way to control the action, but the simplicity of the control remains true to Galaga’s roots and allows one to concentrate on the insane amounts of enemies the game throws at you.
The game contains nine areas. These areas are split into five levels, and the first four levels have a handful of waves with a short time limit to beat. During each wave, the insect aliens will appear in large quantity. They follow predetermined paths, indicated by blue lines that appear at the start, allowing you to anticipate and move out of dangerous areas. You can aim for the large groups of enemies themselves, but it’s much more effective to aim at the group’s weak point. Some groups will have explosives somewhere in them and others will be controlled by, and usually be guarding, larger creatures. There are times where a wave has both simultaneously. It’s in your best interest to target these two items, as doing so will quickly clear the map. Because of this, most waves last mere seconds. It’s very satisfying to wipe out an entire screen of aliens in the blink of an eye.
Upon advancing to the fifth level, your ship is upgraded to have double the firepower. On top of that, you’ll be treated to a small personal squad of your own Galaga ships who fight by your side, which the game refers to as the Legion. With this platoon of starships, you’re tasked with blasting an endless stream of waves you’ve already defeated in a set amount of time to beef up your score. It’s extremely satisfying to not only have such substantial firepower, but to be given a chance to easily conquer waves that gave you trouble earlier on.
The encounters are large with the screen absolutely stuffed with enemies most of the time. It’s frantic and you’ll find yourself threading the needle between large groups time and time again attempting to blast a weak point. Galaga Legions DX will constantly have you on edge, scanning for paths to squeeze through to get off that one essential burst. If you do find yourself in danger, the game borrows the slowing down time element from Pac-Man Champion Edition DX, allowing you to quickly correct a mistake that would of otherwise cost you.
If there is one area Galaga Legions DX is lacking, it’s content. The nine areas take less than ten minutes to complete the first time through. Once those are out of the way, there is a time attack mode, which allows you to play any level of any area to get the fastest time, and a championship mode, which has you tackling more difficult waves with the Legion equipped from that start. All told, there’s about two hours of actual content here. With that said, the drive to best your high score or competing with your friends for leaderboard positions makes those two hours highly replayable. One odd omission is the lack of leaderboards for the time attack mode. In a game where competition is the main reason to come back, it’s strange that this would not be included. It makes the time attack mode a pointless edition for the most part, though it can be used to practice specific waves that might be giving you trouble. The developers also plan to hold championship tournaments in the game in the future, which can be seen on the main menu.
Galaga Legions DX will have your optic nerves on high alert. The game is very bright and colorful, with the highlight being explosions, which come often. The screen is practically always swarming with enemies yet the frame rate stays smooth throughout. One nice touch that was previously featured in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is the ability to choose one of six visual styles before playing, which changes all of the sprites. Some are more charming than others, but each of the six styles look good. Sound effects are what you would expect and do their job during gameplay and the solid techno soundtrack fits in well with the bright neon visuals.
Galaga Legions DX is a game that both old Galaga veterans and those who have never heard of the arcade classic can enjoy. It’s frantic, fun, and evokes the competitive spirit of perfecting play and obtaining high scores. If you’re not one who strives to memorize enemy patterns just to get a few more points, then the game might not be a good value for you as it’s a game meant to be replayed repeatedly. But for those who want to show off their scores to the world or just trash talk some friends, pick up Galaga Legions DX.