The Game: In one of the most seminal variations on the Space Invaders format, Galaxian was among the first clones to introduce attacking formations that would break off from the usual rows and columns of invaders. Though Galaxian‘s use of this innovation was minimal, it was a drastic change from the usual slowly-advancing target gallery. (Atari, 1982)
Memories: Like the 5200 version of Pac-Man, Galaxian is a good demonstration of the next-generation Atari console soundly trouncing its older brother. Galaxian is no slouch on the Atari 2600, but while the game play is relatively intact, the look and feel of the arcade game didn’t survive that particular translation. Those elements are handled much more faithfully in this version of the game, though.
Like Space Invaders, Galaxian actually benefits from the usually-frustrating non-centering joysticks. Control of your ship is unusually fluid, and there’s an unusual quirk in that letting an alien collide with the tip of your ship – the next missile waiting to be fired, perhaps? – will cause their destruction, but not yours. And like Space Invaders, it’s dazzlingly colorful. It really is one of the better early arcade ports in the 5200 library.