Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Galaga

Retro Game of the Day! Galaga

Galaga - Demons of Death, or so the NES subtitle would call it, was unleashed by developer Namco to an unknowing arcade populace in 1981. This game changed everything!

Galaga is a strange story for me. Though I like to credit myself as an "old-school gamer," I don't think I ever really gave Galaga it's due time-of-day until several years (decades) after it reared it's Galagan head. I guess by virtue of the fact that I'd had my share of Space Invaders-style games wen I was a young'un, and looking at this, at the time - it seemed to be more of the same. For crying out loud, they had one at the Student Union at my University and even then I probably sunk only a quarter or two into it. It wasn't until a couple of years into firing up MAME that I gave it more than a passing notice. But when I did.. whoa.

So the thing about Galaga is - it takes the basic concept of Space Invaders and goes it one better (well, several times). Whereas SI throws columns of slowly advancing Minions of Death deterministically marching towards you, Galaga has them taking turns swooping down to confront you head-on - it's much more intense and involving.

The big "gimmick" of Galaga is that there are specialized aliens that will kidnap your cruiser with a tractor beam - if you permit this to happen, and then rescue your ship later (this will "cost" you a life) then you effectively double your firepower. Yeah, now you're a bigger target as well, but the game becomes much easier. Anyway, on paper it doesn't sound like much, but this really ups the ante and adds an entirely new strategy to an otherwise "seemingly simplistic" genre.

I am not sure why I gave Galaga a try so many years later. To tell the truth, it was the B/W GameBoy version that got me hooked - once I "got it," I would sit and fiddle with that thing for HOURS, a good 20 years after it's release. The game is really a thing of perfection. It's feel, it's aesthetic, everything is quite minimal but it is so carefully and rhythmically balanced. Whoever made this game absolutely knew what the hell they were doing - Galaga is one of the Top 5 game standards of all time and that is a crown which will never be relinquished.

As for "the kiddies," Galaga is a game which absolutely holds up and I think it's one of those which anyone could enjoy in the same way Pac-Man is timeless. Please.. if you've never played Galaga, and you are still reading this - you owe it to yourself as someone who likes to have fun, give it a shot. There's more than enough in there to engage any gamer, I don't see how anyone could NOT be addicted to this game!

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