The Game: A two-fer! In Galaxian, attacking formations break off from the usual rows and columns of invaders to dive-bomb you. And in its sequel Galaga, you’re up against another alien invasion, arriving in wave after unfriendly wave. Alien fighters resemble butterflies and bees, but the real prize is the handful of motherships which arrives with each wave. Capable of taking two hits – the first weakens them and turns them dark blue, the second destroys them – the motherships also come equipped with a tractor beam with which to snare your fighters. But if one of your fighters is captured, and you can destroy the mothership which is towing it, your wayward fighter will be returned, doubling your firepower. (Namco, 1995)
Memories: Along with the release of a newly revamped PC and Playstation edition of Galaga – one of Namco’s best-loved classic titles, a new Game Boy version of that game has arrived in stores as well.
This is not a review of that game.
This review covers the earlier two-in-one release which Namco offered in 1995, and this is still one of my all-time favorite Game Boy cartridges, even though it pre-dates the Game Boy Color. (However, it’s not entirely monochrome – this being a Super Game Boy-encoded cart, it does have four or so colors.)
The port of Galaga, though it’s played out on a slightly smaller playing field, is astonishingly faithful to the arcade game. Actually, Galaxian is too, right down to the sound effects. The smaller playing field also makes Galaga easier than its arcade counterpart, or even easier than playing Galaga on MAME or the Namco Museum translation. But it’s still quite a challenge – a smaller playing field for your shots to travel across is also a shorter distance for the enemy’s barrage of fire to cross en route to your ship.
Sadly, Hasbro‘s Game Boy Color revamp of Galaga turned out to be a total bust, as watered-down a port of the Playstation game as they could manage. So if you want to play some real Galaga or Galaxian on your next cross-country flight, get ready for some eBaying – this cartridge is getting very hard to find, and often fetches some serious prices.