Way back in 1978, there was this little game that took Japan (and later the world) by storm, diverting the masses to the arcades and funneling thousands upon thousands of yen coins into the pockets of the growing industry. this little title went by the name of Space Invaders—you might be familiar with it at this point. Jokes aside, while Space Invaders essentially struck gold with its gameplay formula, there was another, somewhat lesser known game that was also highly praised: Namco’s Galaxian.
Released a year after Space Invaders, in 1979, Galaxian took the formula that the former brought to the table, and basically cranked it to 11 by improving both the gameplay as well as the graphics. This would also serve as a precursor to the iconic Galaga.
The premise of this game is essentially the same as Space Invaders, with the players taking control of their own ship, which is confined to the bottom of the screen, and they must defend against the hordes of encroaching aliens known as the eponymous Galaxians. The aliens, in turn, attack neat formations from the top of the screen, slowly shuffling horizontally back and forth. However, in contrast with Space Invaders, the enemies in Galaxian have the ability to break off their formation at any moment and dive bomb the player, adding an extra layer of complexity and urgency to the game.
Regardless of the increased difficulty, Galaxian is still one of those games that’s easier than it sounds, at least compared to the Galaga titles that came afterward. Nevertheless, in this guide, you’ll find a handful of tips, tricks, and information for starting and getting good at Galaxians.
As we mentioned just now, Galaxians plays very similarly to Space Invaders, and as such, the only controls available to the player are a standard joystick for moving left and right, and a button for firing the weapon. These two controls, alongside another pair of buttons for choosing 1 or 2 players, make up the entire control panel for the game.
Regarding the cast of characters and enemies, you’ll find the player’s ship, called the Galaxip, as well as the following enemies:
- Blue Galaxian: The most common type of enemy and the slowest. Once they break formation, they usually follow a sweeping pattern towards the player. They are the first to divebomb the player.
- Purple Galaxian: Faster and more dangerous than their blue brethren, the Purple Galaxians are the second to break formation, this time opting for a more direct route towards the player.
- Red Galaxian: The rarest and most dangerous members of any formation, the Red Galaxians. Though they’re as fast as Blue Galaxians (which makes them pretty slow), they closely guard the Flagship by floating near it when it starts to descend. Since they essentially act as shields for the Flagship, they make it much harder for the player to survive their bombing runs.
- Flagship: The leaders of the formation, of which there are always at least two in each level. Flagships are always escorted by at least two Red Galaxians during their bombing runs, which makes them pretty tough to take down. Keep in mind, however, that the more Red Galaxians you manage to defeat before the Flagship starts their bombing run, the more points they will give. Moreover, if a Flagship escapes during a bombing run, it’ll come back in the next level, for a total of three of these. Finally, if you manage to take down a Flagship while it’s dive-bombing, its galaxian escorts will stop shooting and scatter, giving you a prime opportunity to pick them off for extra points.
Tips and Tricks
Now that you know what to expect of every formation, here are a few nuggets of wisdom to help you survive and score big.
- While it’s pivotal for your score to eliminate every single Galaxian on the screen, you can also win by simply evading them. This is true for Flagships, in particular, since they don’t come back after dive-bombing you at the end of the level, though you never want to do this since they will come back in the next level and make things harder for you, and you’ll also miss out on the sweet, sweet points.
- DO NOT SPAM FIRE. This is one of the worst things you can do in Galaxians, particularly since you can only shoot one projectile at a time. And until you hit something or the missile flies off-screen, you’re effectively defenseless. Always try to aim well and hit your mark in order to optimize your firing rate.
- Your aim is even more important towards the end of the level since there will be a point when every single Galaxian left will break formation and dive at you, going through the bottom of the screen and coming back from the top. However, in contrast with the start of the level, they will NOT fall back into formation, and will simply keep diving at you relentlessly until you defeat them all. This is true for all except the Flagships, which can escape and come back in the next stage.
Like with most games at the time, Galaxians is very easy to pick up, but truly difficult to master. However, we think it’s a worthy upgrade to the classic Space Invaders, even though it was never so popular. Regardless, its sequels, the great Galaga series, still lives on today and has become a worthy installment by itself, carrying the legacy of Galaxians to the current generation, and perhaps even beyond.
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