Galaga is a fixed shooter developed and published by Namco for the Arcade and first released in Japan in September, 1981. It was published in the USA by Midway Manufacturing in October, 1981, and then ported to a large number of systems. The game is part of the Galaxian series, the sequel to Galaxian and followed up by Gaplus. The NES port has the subtitle, Galaga: Demons of Death and the SG-1000 uses the title Sega-Galaga.
In the game, you control a spaceship who must shoot at endless waves of insect-like alien ships. Every three stages is a challenge round where you can rack up bonus points for good accuracy.
I first saw Galaga in the arcade and thought it looked like a lot of fun, though I never played it. One time at the Lakeland Ice Arena, I tried using a metal washer on a Galaga machine, which didn't work, and the machine was out of order anyway, which I think is why I tried it. I have a memory around 1990 when my brother and step-brother had this game on the NES. They were playing it with a Game Genie code which made them invincible, and they lied to me saying it was a special ability. Although I liked the game at first, I very quickly became bored of it since it's just an old fashioned high score game.
When I was in my 20s, my boss told me he was a wiz at the game, and I didn't initially believe him, but then he played the game for about an hour with dying and I was very impressed.
I don't own Galaga on any platform. My high score on the NES port is only 88,640, but I've never tried to get good at it.
Best Version: Arcade
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The insect-like appearance of the alien ships, especially those in the challenge stages, look great. As do the little medals for stages. Hiroshi Ono did a great job on these.
- The challenge stages change things up a bit and are a nice breather, as are the occasional stages where the aliens don't drop bombs as they arrive.
- Seeing the evolution from Space Invaders to Galaxian to Galaga shows a nice solid improvement with each step.
- The swooping movements of the alien ships as they enter the area are interesting and change up across several stages. They become pretty frantic as the stages increase.
- The mechanic of getting a ship captured and getting it back for double fire-power, but a larger target is a nice risk/reward system.
- The the jingles by Nobuyuki Onogi are pretty catchy.
- Although the goal of amassing points is pretty dull, the game offers a variety of different ways to achieve bonus points by rewarding skilled play.
- The NES port has a pretty interesting way of handling the maximum high score. After you surpass 999,999, the score loops to zero, but you get a little ship beneath you score. The next time you elapse the score, you get a second ship, then, after your sixth ship, it switches to "Hero 7," then "Hero 8," then the letters, with some being glitched, then symbols, then various glitched graphics.
- The game pretty quickly turns into a bullet hell, which I don't find enjoyable. It's enjoyable to those with the reflexes capable of handling it, but most players cannot.
- There is a kill screen bug at level 256. This is fixed in some ports.
- Even though it's better than its predecessors, and was a marvel of technology at the time, the game gets boring pretty quickly. Excluding the eight challenge stages, you'll see almost everything the game has to offer in the first stage. Sure, there are 13 different attack patterns, but they're all variations on a theme, and some are skipped on harder difficulty settings. Also, upon reaching stage 22, the game just repeats the same three patterns over and over again.
|Strong female character?||Fail||There are no characters.|
|Bechdel test?||Fail||There are no characters.|
|Strong person of color character?||Fail||There are no characters.|
|Queer character?||Fail||There are no characters.|
Although the arcade original doesn't feature credits, dedicated gamers have discovered much of the original staff.
|Producer||Masaya Nakamura (uncredited)|
|Game Design||Shigeru Yokoyama (uncredited)|
|Hardware||Toru Ogawa (uncredited)|
|Programming||Toru Ogawa (uncredited)|
|Graphics||Hiroshi Ono (uncredited)|
|Music and Sound||Nobuyuki Onogi (uncredited)|
|English (NES)||Galaga: Demons of Death|
|Japanese (Sord M5)||Galax|
- segaretro.org/Sega-Galaga - Sega Retro.