Does for Galaga, what Championship did for Pac-Man
Back when the original Galaga invaded XBLA, I was pretty excited. In the glory days of the arcade it was considered one of the best shooters around. The first thing that came to mind when powering up this classic was “this game hasn’t aged well”. Of course after a few plays and a little nostalgia it was easy to remember why I loved the original, I mean the game has you blasting aliens, what is not to love? For the time, the graphics were good and the game play was better. Fast forward to now…a time with shooters like Ikaruga, 1942 and Aegis Wing. Shooters have evolved into more than horizontal scrolling and alien blasting. With Galaga Legions Namco Bandai has finally brought this iconic shooter into the next generation the same way it did with Pac-Man Championship Edition.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the visuals. The game meshes the classic style of Galaga with the flash of Geometry Wars for a combination that is just as much fun to watch as it is to play. The color palette is full of colorful explosions and plenty of oranges and greens. It is, perhaps, one of the best looking arcade games on the XBLA. You’ll also notice that the game will put a large number of enemies on the screen at once, and rarely is there any slow down or frame rate problems.
The game play remains the same: shoot the aliens. In Legions, you can now move around up, down, left and right. Which is good considering the enemies will now come at you from those directions as well. And you will have a second to respond to where they baddies will come from, thanks to lines drawn on the screen that will show you what path the aliens will come from. This will not only allow you to position your ship, but your satellites as well.
Obviously, this is a new addition to Galaga, and is easily its defining feature. The satellites allow mini gun turrets to break off of your ship and shoot in whichever direction you place them. You control the turrets with the right analog stick. For example, if you have a wave of enemies coming at you from the left and above, you push the right stick to the left, and your first turret will break off and face the left while tapping up will deploy one in that direction. And the beautiful part of you turrets is that they can be placed anywhere on the screen.
Another little helper that has been added is what is called a Galaga. Each level has one of these, and you have to save it from the aliens that have captured it. Once saved, it will turn in to a black hole and swallow everything on screen. It then turns the enemies into guided insects that will follow your every move. They also protect you from the aliens that try to be sneaky and attack you from the side. But, if an alien hits you from the top, well, you die…the Galaga only stays behind you. But the interesting twist to that is that if you shoot your normal lasers, the bugs will come forward and attack enemies. So, if used smartly, the Galaga can be your greatest friend and last you to the end of the level.
Galaga Legions has two modes of play: Adventure and Championship. Adventure has you start from level one and forces you to complete all five levels to beat the game. The catch here is once you use all your lives, you have to start from level one…even if you make it to level four. This can pose a challenge to shooter rookies as the difficulty ramps up fairly quickly. Championship mode, however, allows you to pick any level and go through it to see if you can beat the high score. I recommend this mode first cause you can go through each level and memorize the enemy place and movement. They don’t change between the two modes.
A nice little feature you can use before starting the game is the option of choosing your fire mode (auto fire-you just move your ship, the computer fires for you, while manual fire-you shoot and move). You can also select your skin for your ship. There are three different skins: Original – the skin made for Legions, vintage and ancient – which gives your ship look the appearance made famous from the original game.
You can’t really compare Legions to the original, because Legions changes quit a few aspects of the game. And none of it is bad, but completely necessary. This game gets difficult. And the turrets and Galagas are imperative in order for you to move on to the next stage. Other than the difficulty, the only other negative is the lack of multiplayer. This game screams multiplayer. But, if you are a shooter fan, single-player will be enough to satisfy your thirst. Galaga fans, this game is for you. It builds off of what made Galaga so good in the first place; an amazing shooter that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end.