One of Namco’s strengths as a publisher in the wireless space is its ownership of many of the original game properties including franchise characters and the code itself. Galaga is a little altered port of the old arcade classic. Back when I used to visit arcade parlors (which was quite awhile ago), there was always an old Namco machine or two in the back, and usually it was either Galaga or Ms. Pac-Man.
A quick glance at Galaga might suggest yet another Space Invaders clone. True, Galaga, especially in its still shots, looks a lot like that iconic title. But Galaga’s gameplay extended the franchise a little. I like to see it as early ideas that gave birth to a whole class of arcade shooters like 1942, Raiden and others. For example, rather than have your enemies simply line up and take random potshots at you. Here, Galaga’s foes drop from above to ambush you while shooting. In bonus sequences, they will swirl around on the screen; anything but the classic Space Invader setup. Some enemies jumping you from behind and the ability to move past the bottom of the screen would have made Galaga just like the modern arcade shooter.
Galaga on wireless, however, is not a remade classic. It *is* the classic and appears to translate very well to mobile gaming. Load times are at a minimum so you can jump right in whether you’re in a line or on the subway. And the controls on the cell phone are responsive enough, even at the later levels where you’ll need some pretty fancy finger work to dodge the numerous enemies the game throws at you.
The more I played Galaga, the more I realized how many of its ideas became taken for granted by modern titles. There is a tractor beam in the game that takes away your ship. You lose a life but if you’re able to get your ship back, you’ll have two fighting ships under your control. A two player mode harkens back to the day when the other player merely waited (usually chiding or cheering) on you. While there are essentially no updates except the addition of a vibration effect, Galaga’s strong fundamentals make it a worthwhile action game to check out.