Originally released in 1979, Galaxian was one of the early arcade games that is still considered a classic. Developed by Namco and released by Midway, it is a fixed shooter arcade game, and is characteristic of the genre, which was created by the release of Space Invaders a year earlier.
Galaxian stays true to the formula established by Space Invaders, in that you control a spaceship at the bottom of the screen and must destroy groups of ships at the top of the screen by means of shooting. The main gameplay addition offered by Galaxian to the Space Invaders formula is the kamikaze like behavior of enemy ships. The rate of shooting is relatively slow, however your weapon is reloaded immediately upon a successful hit. Once a wave is conquered, another one, with increased difficulty, would replace it.
Galaxian was a technical breakthrough in several ways. It was the first game to use fully RGB color graphics. It also offered multi-colored animated sprites (including explosions), a tilemap layer, vertical scrolling background, theme music, background music, and representative icons to indicate number of lives left. While not all brand new additions to video games, Galaxian's use of them would influence game development for years to come. Its Namco Galaxian hardware was used by many developers during the arcade golden age.
The game was considered a success and spawned the even more successful sequel, Galaga, in 1981. Galaxian's success drove the development of several versions for various home consoles, and can found collected in various Namco Museum collections for modern day consoles.
The objective is destroy endless 'waves' of enemies. The enemy ships are arranged in a formation at the top of the screen. At regular intervals enemy ships on the sides of the formation swoop down and shoot at the player. There are 4 different types of enemy ship, each type behaves differently on its attacking run.
The player must destroy all ships in a wave to complete it. With a minor exception that one yellow ship may dissappear after a bombing run and will appear as an extra yellow ship in the following wave. The yellow ships attack in a formation with two red ships, the order these three are destroyed determines the points awarded for destroying the yellow. The maximum is 800 points if the two reds are destoyed first. Once a wave has been completed a red flag is added to the bottom of the screen. When 10 flags are accumulated they are replaced by a larger flag.
The player has 3 lives at the beginning of the game. A bonus life is awarded when the player reaches a score of 7000 points. Once all lives have been lost the game ends. The player can only have one shot on screen at one time. This means if the player misses he must wait until the shot leaves the top of the screen to fire again. This makes accuracy very important.
The current world record score for Galaxian is 1,653,270 points.