Bev Chen
19 Jul, 2011

Galaga Legions DX Review

360 Review | Not quite a blast to the past.
Mention old arcade games to someone and memories of Namco titles such as Pac-Man and Dig-Dug are sure to surface. Indeed, games from this classic line-up have been resurrected time and time again, most recently for Namco Bandai’s Generations line for Microsoft and Sony’s Xbox Live and PlayStation Network services. The latest game to receive such a treatment is Galaga, one of the most recognisable shooters across the globe. But does this modern reworking, titled Galaga Legions DX, do the original game justice? Unfortunately, not really. Namco Bandai’s intentions are noble but the updates made to the game instead result in a hodgepodge of gameplay mechanics.

But first, a quick refresher on Galaga. You control a spaceship that must work to exterminate the Galaga - alien space bugs that attack in huge droves. This may sound daunting, especially since the game’s challenges are all very much time-based, but the good news is that every Galaga formation has a weak point, which is marked by an obviously larger and more colourful enemy. Destroy the weak point and it will cause an explosion, taking out numerous Galaga as well. In addition to these, some waves also have leader(s). Destroying the last leader of a formation will immediately cause all other enemies to die, presumably out of shame and despair. Do alien space bugs have feelings? Essentially, more points are being awarded for how quickly you kill each wave of enemies, so memorisation of which enemy is going to be where at what time is the key to scoring well. It has to be said that even today, this is quite a unique way of presenting challenge in a shooter. In fact, this makes the game even seem somewhat puzzle-based.

I forgot my space pesticide.

I forgot my space pesticide.
To further augment not only challenge, but also relevance to modern-day shooters, the gargantuan number of the Galaga means that they take place of the bullets seen in more orthodox shmups. However, there’s still an element of bullet hell, except that the choice of adding such a ‘feature’ is questionable. Typically, bullet hell games rely on split-second reflexes to navigate out of dangerous curtains of bullets, but in Galaga Legions DX, this is easily skipped over due to the fact that you can simply shoot them down. In addition to this, the game slows down when enemies approach you, giving you a certain amount of time to manoeuvre yourself away from the conflict. It’s not a bad gameplay addition by any means, but once again, we felt that this detracted from the game’s overall difficulty.

In addition to bullet hell-esque mechanics, the Galaga Legions DX’s control scheme makes use of the both control sticks, as seen in titles such as Geometry Wars and Gatling Gears. As you would expect, this controls the direction in which your shots are fired. This actually works quite well, and the controls are smooth and responsive. You have a choice of two different types of shot: one which fires in a straight line and one which fires in a ‘V’ formation. It is oddly compelling to see how your shots will fire, mostly because of how pretty the graphics are. Galaga turned HD makes for some decent eye-candy, but if you’re seeking a nostalgia hit, you always have a whole stack of other graphical styles to choose from. The soundtrack, in contrast, features a delightful and suitable number of electronic tunes bound to make you want for the arcade days of old.

For once, this is easier than it looks.

For once, this is easier than it looks.
In terms of longevity, Galaga Legions DX doesn’t really offer much. Most noteworthy of the package is the ability for dedicated players to enter a scoring championship. Namco Bandai haven’t released any details about when this championship will be held, but players will be able to upload their scores to a global scoreboard. It’s unknown whether this event will continue to be held after the initial championship, but we’d wager that not doing so would be akin to taking a major feature out of the game.

It’s quite a logical step for Namco Bandai to take its old and well-loved franchises in new and interesting directions, but unfortunately, updating for the sake of updating ends with mixed results. Galaga Legions DX is a prime example of this, with the questionable addition of bullet hell mechanics and overall unchallenging gameplay hindering what could have really been a blast to the past. Perhaps Namco Bandai’s next foray into the world of arcade classics will be more successful.
The Score
The addition of rather clumsily-implemented mechanics ruins what could have potentially been a wonderful reimagining of and old arcade classic.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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2 years ago
Galaga Legions was pretty disappointing, so I'm sad to see they didn't match up to the brilliant Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. Although it does seem a LOT better, judging from the demo. Just changing to a twin stick shooter format from the relatively horrible satellite system of Legions is a huge step up.

Here's hoping they aren't deterred from releasing more updates to their classics.
2 years ago
If you're looking for something closer to the original Galaga, I recommend Warblade. 100 levels of surprisingly deep gameplay with loads of secrets to find.
2 years ago
I will save my points for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet!
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