The latest Namco Generations retro remake title Galaga Legions DX
hit XBox Live this week, and is well worth the 800 Microsoft points it costs to download. As reviewed recently in my E3 preview
of the title, this newest version of Galaga
is a great improvement over the often frustrating Galaga Legions from a few years ago, due in large part to the inclusion of dual-stick firing controls and more creative enemy movement. This new release is part of Namco Bandai's celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the original Galaga
, which first hit North American arcades in the fall of 1981. Every generation of gamer is familiar with Galaga
, which has likely been played by more people than any other video game title in history outside of Pac-Man
While everyone is familiar with the original classic, today I'd like to share some Galaga
trivia that might not be known by even some of the game's biggest fans.
is the more familiar game title, some die hard fans don't realize that the original Galaga was actually a sequel to the 1979 smash hit Galaxian.
Galaxian took the popular style of Space Invaders and gained a great deal of attention in it's own right by being among the first video games ever to include a full color monitor and divebombing enemy aliens.
Slower paced and more challenging than Galaga, Galaxian contains no dual ship abilities nor challenging stages. The big challenge of the game was nailing the enemy flagship escorts then the flagship itself to gain big points.
All these decades later, Galaga has clearly gained a stronger grip in pop culture history than Galaxian, but failed to sell as many coin-op units in North America as it's 1979 counterpart. Galaxian sold 50,000 legal units stateside to Galaga's 40,000.
However, Namco did not celebrate Galaxian's 30th birthday as it has for Pac-Man and now Galaga.
Homebody? I think not
Galaga became a sleeper hit upon it's release to a market that had become obsessed with cute and cartoonish games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong
. While never a number one smash hit, the game managed to have a far longer lifespan than most of the other games that came out over the years to follow.
Despite this success, no legal home version of the smash hit came into US homes until 1987, when a version of the classic hit the quickly forgotten Atari 7800.
Originally planned for a 1984 release, the Atari 7800 was shoved into warehouse space when the US video game market crashed
around the same time, taking this first home version of Galaga with it. When Nintendo found success with the Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari sold off the long-stored 7800s and finally brought Galaga home.
An NES version hit stateside in 1988, and Galaga has since appeared in almost every successfully marketed home game console since.
What in the world is a Bosconian?
Bosconian was another late 1981 Namco release, also produced stateside by Bally/Midway.
Some collectors over the years have located original Galaga machines that were converted at the factory from unsold Bosconian machines. The two games had similar hardware and cabinet styles, allowing for the folks at Midway to quickly make the alterations.
Information online claiming that the Bosconian conversion cabinets were the first Galaga machines produced, however, is incorrect. The two games were produced at the same time, with Galaga actually beating Bosconian to gameroom floors by almost a full month.
The conversions came during the production run period to keep up with unexpected demand for Galaga while eliminating an unsold inventory of Bosconian machines.
The game that keeps on giving
For a game title that was not expected to be a hit in North America, Galaga has seen numerous arcade re-releases.
The first re-releases came in 1983, when Bally/Midway ran off a few thousand more Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man
machines to keep up with continued demand. This was met with great controversy at the time from arcade operators already facing an oversaturation of coin-op games with little to no resale value, as used Galaga and Ms. Pac machines were retaining more value than any other older title at the time.
In 1995, Galaga returned to arcades as one of the titles in the Namco Classic Collection Volume I, an arcade conversion kit that also contained Mappy and Xevious. This marked the first full re-issue of the classic, even beating Pac-Man to an arcade return (Pac appeared in Volume II of this short series).
In 2000, Galaga made another return to gamerooms and pizza parlors across the country with Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga: Class of 1981. This boardset was slightly retooled and re-released again in 2005 as Pac-Man 25th Anniversary, and more recently a unreal FIFTH legal arcade reissue as part of the 12-in-one Pac-Man's Arcade Party by Namco.
There's a killscreen coming up, sort of
The cult hit film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
has put the gaming term kill-screen (a point in a game that cannot be passed to do a glitch or oversight in the game program) into the pop culture lips.
Like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga has a kill-screen as well, if on the correct difficulty.
What is seen by the gamer upon completion of 255 stages depends on the difficulty setting. The settings used by gamers who have successfully marathoned the game were using the hardest setting, which allows the game to continue past this point.
On some of the lower difficulty settings, as well as re-releases such as The Class of 1981 machine, Galaga might trigger a reboot or can lock up on a "Stage 0" which allows the player to continue to move a fire, but never do any enemies swoop down again. The "Stage 0" situation requires the game to be powered off and restarted if another gamer is to blast any more bugs that day.
Sticking Galaga on "Stage 0" was a fun hobby of the very author of this column in 1995. With a sickening six hour gap between two college courses one semester, I would run up the Galaga in the student break area to "Stage 0" and take seat across the way to watch the reactions of puzzled players who'd walked up to the machine.
What's in a number?
In 1984, Midway brought over Gaplus, the third in the series.
A very tough and challenging title, there was hope for Gaplus to help slumping video arcade game earnings at the time, but it was not meant to be.
After it's initial release, Midway altered the title of Gaplus to the confusing Galaga 3, hoping the name recognition of the previous hit game would help sales and earnings. This move forever confused the lineage of the series, as Gaplus was really Galaxian 3 or perhaps Galaga 2.
Seemingly in an attempt to further confuse arcade patrons, Galaga '88 came out in 1987. While named for the year, some thought the number to be of other significance, even when renamed Galaga '90 for a home release and later back to Galaga '88 for later home collection reissues.
Galaxian 3, released after Galaga '88, was the title of a theatre system arcade release by Namco in 1990, despite it techically serving as the fifth game in the series, which in order reads as Galaxian, Galaga, Gaplus/Galaga 3, Galaga '88/Galaga '90 then Galaxian 3.
Despite all of it, people continued to play 1981's Galaga.
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Original source: Examiner.com