In this video game review, which is near and dear to our hearts, we take a look at the reboot of one of the greatest games in video game history - Galaga. Does Galaga Legions DX live up to childhood memories of smoky arcades blasting Joan Jett records? Or does it flop on its face like so many other remake attempts?
I have to admit that I had a bit of a challenge trying to figure out an approach to write this article. The crunchy frosted mini-wheat side of me wanted to jump up and down like the Osh-B’Gosh, Pro-Keds (ask your uncle) wearing 7-year old boy that used to blow rolls of quarters at the local arcade faster than a blue haired granny planted at the one-arm bandits at the casinos (that’s right, we actually had to leave our houses to play video games) But this is not a diatribe about my fading youth or so my editor keeps telling me. Which leads me to the sensible (aka boring) fiber rich wheat side of me that wanted to love this throwback game. The latest release in a blatantly obvious but not altogether unwelcome trend by Namco games to exploit - *ahem* - revisit their 8-bit arcade hits from the past. And to those fellow 30-something gamers: can you believe that it’s been 30 years since this game was released? Sorry, sorry, on to the review.
To the uninitiated - or as I would like to call them - 20-something whippersnappers, the premise of Galaga is mindnumbingly simple. A starfighter (not unlike those seen in a galaxy far, far away) has to defeat a seemingly never-ending horde of invading aliens called, you guessed it, Galaga and before you ask, no this isn’t a video game based on Arizona. Let’s start with the similarities shall we? The gameplay will also be very familiar to Galaga fans. There’s still the main ship (you) and your two loyal wingmen that follow your every move. Only, as opposed to the fixed position approach of the original game, your satellite fighters can be positioned anywhere on screen and their field of fire can also be adjusted. This is a welcomed change in gameplay. Now if this has a Tron: Legacy type of ring to it, believe me, that’s not unintentional. There is very much a spit and polish job to the game going on here but hear me out.
The battlefield is still 2-D and those pesky alien ships still come at you just as fast and furious as they did 30 years ago. The subtitle ‘Legions’ - as those of you who have played the game know - is extraordinarily on-point. The aforementioned hordes come at you in just about every direction possible. Fans of the oft-called ‘bullet hail’ games will love the ferocity and relentlessness of the gameplay in ‘Legions DX.’ The Galaga certainly know how to ‘make it rain’, as the kids like to say these days.
Another tweak on the original is the set up of the levels. The game is broken up into five increasingly difficult levels. And to those naysayers who would be quick to cry ‘BS’ at the five levels, this reviewer has just two words for you: Good Luck. Not only are their literally thousands of baddies that you have to contend with, there’s also a time limit to that highly coveted high score. Memorization used to be the one and only main strategy of the original game, but now it’s way less strategic and more of an intergalactic shooting frenzy. The enemies not only have to be destroyed, but destroyed quickly and efficiently or else it’s back to the start of the board. One strategy - if you really want to call it that - is to kill off the much bigger alien battleships and ignore the drones, which will create great honking explosions that blow-up any ship next to it. Either way, it’s important to stay on your toes. Much like the original as well, the actual threat level is severely tame in the “edge-of-your-seat” sense of the term. No matter how fast or how many of them surround you at any given time, a quick trigger finger is still pretty much all it takes to plow the road.
One cool feature is the six skin modes you can choose to play in. While neither of these alter the game-play or difficulty, ‘older’ fans of the game will be certain to get a kick out of the retro visual style that harkens back to the days of the classic Galaga and Galaxian. Back when you could blast the baddies to beautifully rendered 8-bit space dust. And just like the original, the overall outcome of ‘winning’ will hardly have you feeling like a tiger-blooded Charlie Sheen. If anything, the fiber rich, nutritious wheat side of you will not be able to help but wonder what held the prepubescent you so engaged all those years ago.
Now the drawbacks, as if they weren’t really any different than they were three decades ago. The overall gameplay is limited even, though the graphics have undergone a 21st century face-lift. And while Legion DX is a welcome trip down memory lane, there’s limited replay value in my opinion. Not to mention that the game at the time of this review is only offered on X-box 360. Aside from the mindless ‘bullet hail’ escapism, it’s still basically the same game, just in a much snazzier package.
So with the slightly bloated price-tag of about $10, I’d leave the ‘must-have’ buying decision up to you. Even though I already mentioned that I would have loved to be singing the praises of this game from the rooftops, I have been struggling this entire review not to bring up the fact that, while this game is pretty one-note and very tame by today’s standards, it’s still the type of manic marathon type of game that got many of us turned onto video games in the first place. And I would love to see many of the younger generation gamers try to tackle this game the way we did, us against the world with ONE joystick and ONE button.
There are other retro game packages that already include the game that may offer more nostalgia for your gaming bucks. I cannot deny the fact that this game would have little to offer younger gamers and us fuddy-duddies may not be just the primary audience - but the only audience for this game.
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