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Galaxian (Arcade) artwork

Galaxian (Arcade) review




Hopping on the success of Space Invaders, Bally Midway in 1979 released Galaxian, the first in a series of games with similar game play. However, Midway, while plenty used to licensing, manufacturing, and redesigning games was not too used to programming original ones, and boy does it show in Galaxian. 


As the game's intro says: 


Can't get much more simple than that: navigate the ship, Galaxip (try pronouncing that one), and shoot at the aliens (bugs). 


Imagery is certainly Galaxian's strong suit as this is the first ''true'' color game. All of Galaxian's graphics are in RGB (Red-Green-Blue) color, where each pixel has a triad of RGB values. Because of this, Galaxian features bright and colorful bug-like aliens and a well-defined ship for the player. The starscape background is also quite attractive. 


Unlike the excellent graphics, the sound, if you can call it that, is simply atrocious. Upon inserting a quarter and pressing Start, a high-pitched, shrieking rendition of Woody the Woodpecker emits from the cabinet, and it only gets worse from here on. 

Like Space Invaders, Galaxian features a pulsating background noise, but here it's more of a drone and easily ignored. Not even when the sound pulsates at its fastest does it even instill a tad of anxiety in me. By far the best sound effect in the game is the firing sound, though the sound when aliens are shot isn't bad as well. 

Any hope of mediocre sound is killed by the garbage played when the aliens swoop down at the Galaxip: it's a high pitched whistle that is literally three times louder than any of the game's other sounds. The sound is played over and over again until I want to smash the cabinet to pieces with a sledge hammer. Also very annoying is the Galaxip destruction sound, which is heard about every time I inhale/exhale. 

Controls and Mechanics 

As if the sound wasn't traumatizing enough, Midway hits us with an unplayable game. The premise is identical to Space Invaders, except rather than a base on Earth defending against an alien invasion, a ship flies through space seeking destruction of aliens. The aliens do not advance in rows, but scattered groups occasionally fly down toward the Galaxip and fire shots. The stage ends when all aliens are destroyed.

Sounds, good, but the problem is that the Galaxip is as slow as molasses and can only fire one shot at a time, which is also slow as molasses. Couple this with the fact that the aliens are twice as fast as your ship and can fire a barrage of shots and we have a game that is no fun to play at all. 


Galaxian is plenty challenging but in such an unfair way that it turns players off. The enemies are too fast, get too many shots, and the Galaxip is about the most worthless piece of junk in space. I'm glad when I lose because I get to see the stupid thing explode. It fills me with a disturbing sense of serenity. 


As if the sound wasn't bad enough, sometimes the swooping sound effect hangs for an inordinate amount of time. One time the sound hung past game play and it forced me to unplug the unit from the wall. It was that annoying. 


Terrible control and unfair game play make Galaxian almost no fun to play at all. In fact, Galaxian is so terrible to the point where I'd much rather play Space Invaders, which I do not like, either. I only made it through the first few waves, but the sheer terror of playing this awful game prevented me from going any further. 

The defining moment of playing this game was hearing the Woody the Woodpecker theme; I knew the first time I played that everything was downhill from there. I normally don't give too heavy consideration to superficial elements like sound to the final rating of a game, but I must take exception here. Galaxian's noises are so intrusive and annoying that I docked it two points just for that swooping alien sound. And it doesn't go away when I stop playing, either: I have nightmares about this game. Galaxian scarred me for life. I hate you, Galaxian. 


In case one cannot tell by now, I do not like this game. Excellent graphics and the fact that the game is at least playable earn Galaxian the few points I gave it, but make no mistake: I'd rather pull my own teeth with a pair of pliers and drink the tangy liquid that pours out of the sockets than play this game. Thankfully, Galaga, the next game in the Galaxian series is infinitely better in every facet compared to this garbage. What a waste of 128 kilobytes of ROM, which probably cost five thousand dollars in 1979.

whelkman's avatar
Community review by whelkman (May 26, 2008)

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