I’ll make no bones about it, Galaga is my all time favorite arcade game. I played it when it first came out in the 80s and I’m still in the love affair with it in 2011; I could sit down right now and play that game for the rest of the afternoon; that’s how much I love and respect the original. With that said, Namco Bandai released Galaga Legions DX, which is a ‘remix’ in a sense that takes the same gaming path as Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.
What did Namco Bandai do to their classic game? They took the original concept and kind of mixed it together with Galaga 3 and a little bit of Space Invaders. You got a massive swarm of enemies coming from all sorts of directions in the game, which keeps you locked onto the screen. They can come from above, left, right or from the bottom. Don’t worry, though, you aren’t stuck to the bottom of the screen like the original. Namco Bandai has given you the freedom to move your ship in an Asteroid-like manner around the screen in a 360 degree, 2D movement. This allows you the time to slide around waves of enemies that have certain directions and patterns to them. The game also gives you fair warning of enemies approaching by flashing several yellow, outlined boxes right before the enemy swarm attacks, so you can prepare for them accordingly. Battling and gameplay is fast and furious in Galaga Legions DX, which is something that has been sort of an expectation with remix titles as of late.
Speaking of fast and furious (don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about the movies), you get a few ways to arm yourself. Adopting both analog sticks you can fire pretty much in any direction (much like the ship in The Last Starfighter). You have two main ways of firing, one is a steady stream in whatever direction you are wanting, basically three guns firing in straight lines. The other gun type uses a more angular direction, which is frustrating at times. This gun type allows you to shoot east/west/north and in 45 degree angles. It’s a weaker gun setup, but it does have its advantages, especially when you’re trying to take out enemies that are swarming in multiple directions. It can be a bit frustrating, so if you don’t like this style you can always click your right bumper to switch between the two gun types. The final way to shoot is by adopting enemies, which happens at the beginning of the last wave in a area. Much like capturing a ship in the original game, you basically end up capturing an entire squadron of ships and are given a free pass at the end of an area to take everyone out with authority. You can compare this to a downhill bike ride at the end of a grueling uphill climb; it’s a welcomed sight and it takes little effort to complete.
What about the enemies? Well, the enemies are okay at best. While the nostalgia of the original game is firmly intact with an enemy’s pattern method, and not breaking from it, the 800 MS point adventure can get a little repetitive in this area. Having gone through all nine initial areas in the game (though you do get a championship mode and time attack, so there’s more to the game), I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn’t really a ‘boss’ battle at the end of each area. I understand that maybe Namco Bandai wanted to maintain the integrity of the original series, but if you’re going to throw out some original rules it would have been nice to see some creativity truly shine with adding true ‘bosses’. While dealing with insane attack patterns from enemy swarms is challenging, the lack of bosses really does put sort of a damper on the feeling of accomplishment at the end of each stage. That’s my biggest complaint, and it doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience, but it would have been nice to see something like this.
Anyway, moving on to presentation!
You get some really gorgeous visuals that should maybe have an epilepsy warning on them (I missed it if it’s there) that create a colorful collage of non-stop screen action that keeps your blood pumping. Much like the beginning of Moulin Rouge (yes, the film and it’s Steve Schardein‘s favorite film), the visuals can get a bit overwhelming at first. You will have to get use to what you’re seeing, how everything is happening and essentially get settled in to understand what exactly is going on. Stick with it and everything will settle in for you. To help you get in the mood for your visuals, the soundtrack of the game has been updated with some very impressive techno. The techno will add to the onscreen madness and fit perfectly in with getting you in the mood to play this game.
So is this game worth it? Well, if you’re expecting the type of gaming achievement of a Pac-Man Championship Edition DX then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. It never quite reaches that height of new gameplay and near perfection that Pac-Man achieved. What Galaga Legions DX does well is take a really great classic and give you a new twist on playing it. It’s tough to take a game like the original Galaga and make something new while still maintaining the integrity of the original. Namco Bandai did a good job with it, probably the best they could do, but at the end of the day I will still play the original Galaga over this one. It’s cheap, though, so give it a go if you like the original.