Thursday, August 21, 2008

Galaga Championship Edition??? The Galaga Legions Review

Namco Bandai has been a big supporter for Xbox Live Arcade ever since 2006 releasing their classic games as arcade ports on the service. The quality varied with those releases pending on how good they were during the golden era of arcades. Namco's breakthrough hit on Xbox Live Arcade was a remake with Pac-Man Championship Edition last year making Pac-Man cool again with competitions for high scores under time limits. Now Galaga is next on the remake trail with Galaga Legions, which resembles more of the later old school Galaga games than the original, but with redone graphics for the current generation. While it may feel like the weakest game out of the Summer of Arcade lineup, this new take on Galaga is worth checking out for fans of the original and shumps looking for another decent challenge.

Galaga Legions is split into two modes, which are Adventure and Championship. Adventure Mode is a standard run through the game's five areas of four stages trying to survive and blast through wave after wave of enemy ships. Gaining a 1up is different compared to other old school based games as you gain an extra life before the last stage of an area, which is helpful against the boss sets at the end of the area. Once you run out of lives, you have to start over from the beginning of the first area and try again because this Galaga can be difficult at times with the insane enemy movement patterns especially in the later areas. Championship Mode is basically the competitive mode for high scores as you can select either of the five areas separately and go for the highest score possible before losing all your lives. There is also a replay mode if you want to see your last game and a tutorial for beginners. Other than that, there's not enough variety in the modes compared to Pac-Man Championship Edition, but the ones available will keep players busy till they are beaten or going for high scores.

The core gameplay is still basically the same of shooting down enemy ships, but the new twists make the game more interesting and a little deep too. New to Legions is the ability to deploy satellites, the sides of your main ship, by flicking the right stick to a direction of your choice. These things can save you once you're about to die or trapped in a corner if used right. Especially when the game tells you the next wave of enemies' movements for a second or two, it is enough time to plot out satellites to take down numerous ships. The areas themselves usually start out slow with the number of enemies on screen, but the action ramps up pretty quickly after that and unexpected spawning of enemies can lead to frustrating deaths too. There are certain enemies you can take out that will cause a chain reaction destroying the whole set and the game's multiplier system factors in on that aspect of taking out the normal ships and then taking out the leader ship for more points. In addition, there are times you may be overwhelmed of a huge wave of enemies especially near the end of an area and moving to the wrong part of the map will also lead to another lost ship. With the insane numbers of enemies on screen, you can move freely throughout the map compared to moving left and right in the original Galaga even though your main ship only fires up, which means your satellites have to do some work too. Also appearing once a level is a black hole to shoot down to capture some of the enemy ships to your side, which are very beneficial in tight spots too, but they are lost if they are hit by an enemy ship. The gameplay mechanics introduced in Legions are fun to mess with and satisfying when used right trying to survive.

Graphically, Galaga Legions looks stunning with the style provided in the game. The action rarely slows down when hordes of enemies are trying to kill you. The graphical style does remind me also of Pac-Man Championship Edition with the look of your ship and enemies. There are also a number of skins you can play through other than the default skin like the Ancient one and the Vintage skin, which everything looks like the original Galaga with the new glow. The menus themselves are in the typical Namco XBLA tradition of the same font and I hope Namco changes up their menu design in future games because it is getting a little old for me, which seems nit picky for their presentation. The sound design is also fine in Legions with remixed themes that fit the space atmosphere, but nothing really memorable compared to Pac-Man C.E. unless you're a hardcore Galaga fan.

For 800 Microsoft Points (ten dollars), Galaga Legions is worth downloading if you ever liked Galaga and its sequels. This is actually a great take on one of the recognizable old school shooters with its new additions and great graphical style. The modes available are good enough to keep players busy racking up high scores and will provide a decent challenge trying to memorize enemy wave patterns while using your assisting satellites to your advantage. However, I would like to see more modes that spice up the gameplay a bit. Leaderboards and achievements, which are pretty straightforward of game progression, are present in Legions to push players to compete against others online. While it is not as amazing as Pac-Man Championship Edition, Galaga Legions is still a successful take on a classic game and I hope Namco continues to pump out new takes for their other classic games like this in the future.

Score = 8/10

  • Great graphical style reminiscent of Pac-Man C.E.
  • Gameplay additions are worth it with the deployment of satellites and black holes.
  • A decent challenge for veterans of the series
  • Can be addicting with racking up high scores in Championship mode.
  • More modes that spice up the gameplay would have been cool.
  • The menu design is getting a little old to me.
  • Players may be overwhelmed of the insanity of enemy waves cluttering up the screen.
  • Rare instances of slowdown (usually when your ship blows up).

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