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Galaga: Destination Earth: Just Like the Good Ole Days

The PlayStation version of the Galaga remake looks surprisingly good. The ships are well-detailed, and easy to discern. I couldn?t tell if I had hit the motherships once or not at all, but that?s a minor problem. Some of the settings that you fly through in this demo are rather nice -- I especially like the random girders and whatnot in one of the Starfox-esque sections. It reminded me of Sector X back in that game.

A special note must be made of the FMV in Galaga. If the final product looks anything like that found in this demo, it?s going to be the first batch of full-motion video to even come close to challenging Square?s quality. It looks -fine-, and I mean that in every sense of the word. Mmm.

Like the Breakout demo, the Galaga demo had no music. The sound effects were what you?d expect -- bangs and explosions and whatnot. Nothing particularly noteworthy, but certainly not bad enough to make you turn off the speakers.

Instead of the top-down formation shooting that the original Galaga had, along with its relatives Galaxian, Gaplus, and Galaga ?88, Galaga: Destination Earth offers three different modes of attack. There?s the standard top-down style, and then there?s a side-scrolling view a la Darius or Gradius. Then there?s the aforementioned behind-the-ship view that is more like Starfox than any other game I can think of. The game switches between the three modes rather regularly, keeping it fresh and interesting. It seems that it stays in the Starfox-style mode more than any of the others, however.

The two scrolling modes are eminently playable, with enemies swooping down and you blowing them to smithereens. You can pick up power-ups that let you use a tractor beam on an enemy, making them your ally, and as in the classic game, you can get pulled in yourself by the motherships and make dual fighters. This is all well and good, and quite entertaining. Inane trigger-pumping action, perhaps; but there?s certainly nothing wrong with that.

The behind-the-ship view presents something more of a challenge. Like in Starfox, your ship often obscures what you?re trying to do, making targeting something of a hassle. Even with the reticule that shows you where you?re firing, it?s more difficult than perhaps it needs to be. It?s not necessarily a bad idea, but perhaps it could be executed better. Hopefully the final version will be a little more tweaked than this preview version.

There are some missions that have specific goals -- in the demo, the ones you?ll find have to do with picking up a certain number of escape pods in a certain amount of time. It?s certainly a pleasant change of pace from the standard ?blow everything up? methodology, and does a good deal to keep the game interesting. There?s also a health bar now, which means that getting hit doesn?t mean instant death. Nice. And there are still the Challenging Stages. Woot!

I blew through most of the preview version in the first ten or so minutes I spent with it, but one would assume that the full version has more levels, and hence, more challenge than the little snippet I had to play with. The behind-the-cockpit levels are certainly more challenging than the other two, however. Doing the Challenging Stage in that mode almost made me want to throw the controller down... almost.

As stated before, the Starfox-view in Galaga: Destination Earth could definitely use some tweaking. Wire-framing the ship would be a good idea, or at least making it transparent so that it can be seen through. Other than that, the game plays quite well. It gives you all of the mindless action that you?d expect from a follow-up to the classic Galaga.

People expecting a new paradigm in shooters should probably stay away from Galaga: DE. But those of us who miss the good old days of mindless shooters, and who tend to play said mindless shooters on various Greatest Hits collections, are certain to appreciate the revamping in Galaga: Destination Earth. With a little tweaking, the game could be a damned fine shooter.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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