To Galaga and Beyond

Ah, Galaga.

One of the pioneering arcade games that brought the phenomena to the United States and one of the games that led to Namco’s rise to fame (though not even Galaga could save the E.T. fiasco).

Personally this was one of the first games I ever played, and it’s still one of my all-time favorites. I remember putting quarter after quarter into an old Galaga arcade cabinet on vacations to Wisconsin, right next to Pac-Man. I played it all the time on my Namco Museum cart for the GBA. Still do, actually.

But what I didn’t know all those years was that Galaga is actually the sequel to the 1979 game Galaxian. (Having played Galaxian, I can’t say it’s my favorite. Ew.) The crazy thing is that they’re still making Galaga games. The next one in the series is slated to release later this year under the name Galaga Assault. And yes, it’s an arcade cabinet.

So why is Galaga so fun? In my opinion, it has the same charm as Pac-Man or Dig Dug: they’re hard. They start off easy enough, but they get hard fast, and only the strong survive. It’s fun to work at it until you finally get to put your initials on the High Score screen. Of course then some other kid with more quarters than you comes along and takes your spot, but you just need to work harder at your paper routes to make more money and try again.

In all seriousness though, Galaga has just that special something that makes it timeless. Old Namco games tend to be like that. I don’t really know where they went wrong, but boy they lost their charm. Now all we really get are remakes. Which I’m fine with, a lot of the Galaga remakes are good, but it’s a little disheartening to know that they’re losing their flavor with upcoming generations of gamers. (Of course Namco also makes the Tales of series, among others, so those are still good.)

Hopefully Galaga Assault can fix that. Looks fun to me, anyway.

If you’ve never played Galaga before, I highly recommend you go do so. Just a quick Google search will bring you to a bunch of websites to play it for free, or you can download the Steam, iOS, or Android versions.

And now, some trivia!

Did you know…

  • Galaga is one of the most bootlegged games of all time, along with Pac-Man and Pong.
  • It was one of the first games with a bonus stage!
  • It was played by Matthew Broderick’s character in the 1980’s film WarGames in a few scenes, as MGM sent him a cabinet to practice for the movie.
  • Tony Stark catches someone playing the game in the first Avengers film, saying, “That man is playing Galaga.”

Sources: Wikipedia, Arcade Museum.Com

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