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Galaga Legions Review

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  • XBGS

Galaga Legions isn't a great Galaga sequel, but it's a decent space shooter with some interesting ideas.

Galaga Legions is a pretty interesting update to the old static-screen space shooter equation. Rather than deal in waves that contain set numbers of enemies, Legions constantly bombards you with tons of enemy ships and, at times, feels as frantic as a dual-joystick shooter. But my key issue with it is that it really doesn't feel very much like Galaga at all.

Legions is usually pretty hectic.
Legions is usually pretty hectic.
The core concept is definitely Galaga-like. It's as if someone sat down and decided to make an entire game out of the "challenging stage" bonus rounds found in the original Galaga. But rather than shooting for accuracy and trying to hit everything, as you did in the '80s, Legions doesn't seem to care if you hit everything or not. It's more about surviving the looping and swooping ships that are constantly flying into and out of the screen.

You'll fight off the enemy by shooting them, naturally. Your ship can only fire up, as normal, but you can move around the screen at will. You also have two satellite cannons that can be deployed at any time using the right stick. Unlike your main ship, the satellites can fire up, down, left, or right depending on which direction you push. You can pick up your satellites by touching them, or a tap of the left bumper will send them back to you. Immediately before ships fly onto the screen, a set of streaky lines details the path of the incoming ships, giving you a moment to set up your satellites and prepare for the attack. The enemies rarely shoot at you, so you're mainly trying to avoid collisions while racking up as high of a score as you can. Eliminating enemies in quick succession, or hitting an explosive ship that takes out all the other enemies in that wave, brings your score multiplier up. It drains very quickly, though, so it doesn't seem like it's one of those action puzzle games where you can do some kind of full combo the whole way through.

Galaga's other defining feature was the way the boss ships would come down and spit out a tractor beam, capturing one of your ships. You could then free your captured ship and dock it with your new one, giving you double firepower. But Galaga Legions instead bases its capturing mechanic off of Gaplus (Galaga's direct sequel), where you could capture enemy ships and use them for additional firepower. In Legions, this is accomplished using a big black hole-like ball that appears at a set point in every level. When you shoot it enough times, it activates, sucks up all the ships on screen, and gives them to you to control. The enemy ships deploy with your satellites, making them much more powerful.

Dodging all this stuff is actually a lot easier than it initially looks.
Dodging all this stuff is actually a lot easier than it initially looks.
The background graphics are probably the best thing about Galaga Legions. It goes from being a pretty standard star field to a warping mess of colorful streaks and back again over the course of its five stages. The flashy look definitely makes the game feel more action-packed than it really is. Also, you can unlock additional skins for the various ships, including ships modeled off of original graphics for Galaga, Galaxian, and so on. The old graphics used in these skins have borders around them that make them stand out in the same way that Pac-Man Championship Edition did. Incidentally, Galaga Legions was made by some of the same people that did Pac-Man CE, but the approach to updating an old game is so vastly different in the two games that there's very little common ground between them.

As a game following in the footsteps of the Galaga legacy, Legions doesn't do a very good job. Other than the ability for ships to capture other ships, nothing about this game feels much like the original game. So it might not do anything for people with an eye for nostalgia. But on its own, Galaga Legions manages to be an interesting and unique take on static-screen shooters. The demo provides a pretty complete picture of what the full game is like, so if that excites you at all, chances are you'll find the full game to be just as satisfying.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+