Namco Bandai are doing a lot of these remix games of late, and why shouldn’t they. Remixing and re-releasing you classic library can be very lucrative business. Some though, may argue that these games are sacred and should be left as they are. But I always think that who are we to stop a new generation of gamers from enjoying the fruits of these games classics past.
Galaga is by far my favourite of the old school shoot’em ups. It took the basics of Space Invaders and improved it in every way, with more varied enemies and attack patterns the game was not only more enjoyable but harder to boot.
Galaga remix takes this games’ foundations and adds even more, including a contemporary makeover, new level structure and boss battles, to the mix. The classic version in all it’s 8-bit glory is also included for you retro nuts out there.
The look and feel of the remixed version looks great. All the space bugs are still in their 2D sprite glory, but are more detailed and colourful. Instead of a blank starfield you are presented with nicely rendered planetoids on the background, which move ever closer on each level until you meet the boss. Everything moves nice and quick around the screen with the multitude of bugs spinning and swooping from all direction, in fact strangely the remix version runs better than the classic version which chugs from time to time.
The remix version also features a new level structure, with the game divided into worlds, with around five or so levels to each world, ending in a boss encounter before moving on to the next world. Once you’ve completed a level you can play it in freeplay.
Back in the 80s, music and sound in games were not the best, not by today’s standards anyhow. Galaga did good in this regard featuring an iconic score before each level and, unlike Space Invaders, some great pacman-esque sound effects. Galaga remix goes a step further by re-creating the tunes and effects, with a more modern sound while still giving that retro feel.
Unfortunately this games not all good. Namco have given you three control options, and while it’s good to see this level of customisation, none of the control options seem quite right, especially in classic mode. Accelerometer mode just doesn’t work at all in my opinion, with the screen changing angle it’s hard to keep an eye on the action to dodge incoming fire. Then there’s the keys option, which give you left to right keys on the left and a fire button on the right. This option is OK, but without tactile feedback your thumb can fall off resulting in miss-reading of you actions, which is crucial. The third option is slider controls and, while it sounds bad, it’s the best of the bunch, especially in the remix game, where it’s almost perfect. However, in classic mode it doesn’t work so well. Classic mode puts the device in portrait mode, which means when using the slider there is no room for the fire button, so you must tap the slider to fire, which just feels unnatural and fiddley.
Finally, while the classic game is as challenging as always, the new remix version is a little too easy, especially in the early levels. During almost three quarters of the levels I died only once or twice, which for an arcade style game is rare. As a pick-up-and-play arcade game it’s fun, but the remix version can get a little repetitive during it’s early levels and chapters.
The bottom line
There’s no denying that Galaga is one of the all-time greats in the shoot-em-up genre, and Namco have certainly added some value to the classic version with the new remix mode. However, some of you may find the controls a put off, and you may instead prefer to look towards either the DS or PSP versions of the game for a better all-round experience. Having said that, if you do not own either of those devices, then it’s certainly worth at least trying out the lite edition of Galaga Remix before you make a decision.
Presentation and graphics
The classic version is retro goodness, and the remixed version is, well, remixed!
Love the 8-bit sounds of the original, and the remixed music is top notch.
The classic is probably too hard, and the remixed version too easy, despite a few challenging boss encounters. Three controls settings that don’t quite work throughout both modes, hurt the experience.
If you are a hard core nut then you’ll keep coming back for the classic version. For the rest of us there is a solid amount of levels in the remixed version to keep you playing on.
Galaga is out now for $5.99 with a lite version available for free. As of version 1.0.1 this game is not 3GS compatible.