First I must give a disclaimer. I am a Galaga nut. As a wee sprat it is one of the first coin op games I ever really latched on to. Even after I gained a few years and the cool kids were playing Street Fighter on the big screen you would find my plunking my parents hard earned money in the smoke filled dens of video devilment. To this day I have been on actual dates where I have seen a Galaga machine and my eyes stare longingly over to it’s pixilated glory. In these cases, second dates are rare.
So I was both nervous and excited when Galaga Legions was first announced and then finally released on Xbox Live Arcade. Nervous because in my mind it had such huge shoes to fill and excited because, hey, it’s a new Galaga and the first in almost 30 years.
On the surface, the gameplay seems simple enough. You control the main ship with the left analog stick you can deploy one of two satellite units that fire in any one of four directions depending on which direction you flick the right analog stick. The satellites will stay in position until you bring them on home by either running over them with the ship or press the left bumper. You are given a choice between auto-fire or manual fire.
At first I was worried this was going to be too complicated for a fast paced shooter like this but the same team who created the brilliant Pac-Man: Championship Edition at Namco-Bandai really pulled it off where anyone can pick up the concept quickly.
However, as anyone who plays the game will soon find out, you’ll need lightning fast reflexes and more importantly brain power to conquer this game. The familiar enemies pour out of every part of the screen but not haphazardly as you might expect. The player gets a split second to see the oncoming pattern and adjusts the ship accordingly. There are two modes: Adventuring where you attempt to play through the entire game without continuing and Championship where you can blessedly start on any one of the game’s five levels that predictably increase with difficulty as you go move through them. Most players are going to feel at home on the latter as its going to take a very skilled player to play through with no chance at a continue.
This game is hard. At times, yelling at your controller hard. There is a lot of memorization at where the next enemies are going to come from but any fan of the original game can appreciate that. Namco made a really good decision by breaking up any possible monotony by allowing the user to choose any one of five skins (two of which are unlockable). All five look really great on the game’s already superb graphics. Fortunately, the good people at Namco were kind enough to present us with a challenge but giving most players a glimmer of hope of being able to complete most parts of the game with enough perseverance.
The game isn’t perfect. The manual fire, which was such a big part of the original, really doesn’t seem to work very well with the 360 controller. The right trigger just isn’t fast enough for a game like this. There is no multiplayer option to speak of (unless you count the obligatory leaderboards). I think it would have been really fun to trade off after deaths and give pointers or just make fun of a friend while you waited and watched like yon olden days. The game mysteriously didn’t have a restart option. Instead, when you die early on and need a quick restart in order to avoid killing any nearby household pets in your frustration, you must exit the game completely and set up your game from the first menu.
I believe the good far outweighs the bad in this Galaga Legions. The game looks, plays and sounds great. You can tell that the developers avoided just cashing in (I’m looking at you Frogger 2) on a familiar brand and instead put a lot of hard work and love into this game. It has that very rare quality in a game where you can appreciate the hardcore difficulty level because it happens to be so much damn fun to play. I’ll look forward to being in my 60s and being able to play the third installment.
The graphics are superb for an arcade game the added skins (with a nod towards the original game) make it exceptional.
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The difficulty might scare off some but the originality of the satellites and added strategy make it worth the effort.
The light voice work is nice but music itself isn’t as varied.
The difficulty is so intense most wont want a second play through but the leaderboards always make the score junkie a happy person.
An above average Arcade game over Xbox Live and certainly worth a purchase for an old fan and any fan of the shooter.