Wednesday 9 September 2015

Galaga: Demons of Death (NES review)

Developer: Namco
Publisher: Bandai America
Released: 1988

Galaga: Demons of Death is a fixed view shoot-em-up that was first released in the Arcades in 1981.

You can only fire two bullets at a time and your mission is to clear wave-after-wave of aliens. Unlike Space Invaders (1978, Arcades) the aliens aren't static and swoop into and around the screen in a variety of formations. Each enemy colour has different attack patterns including suicide bombers, aliens that fire and bosses that try to capture you using tractor beams. Your ship can only move left and right but thankfully the controls are responsive. The action is furious and nerve-wracking and the unpredictable nature of the enemy patterns helps to keep things fresh. The key to getting a high score is to add a second ship to your side which doubles your on-screen bullets. I love the risk-reward element here as you first need to be captured by a tractor beam and then shoot the boss when it starts moving. It's dangerous as you can quickly lose your lives if you fail but doing so successfully makes you feel like a complete badass with your increased firepower! Every third round is a Challenge Stage where you need to shoot waves of aliens that swoop in in different formations. You can't be harmed here and each enemy you shoot adds 100 points towards your total. It's a fun diversion and a great way to practice your reactions and pattern recognition. What's most disappointing is that there's no other modes on offer; considering this is a port of a seven-year-old title Namco really should have added some additional features to bulk up the gameplay. As it stands the lack of content makes it feel like some of the early NES Black Box games that relied on addictive simplicity over depth.

Galaga: Demons of Death is a great shoot-em-up that's tons of fun for 10-15 minutes but once you've had your fix there's little reason to stick around. It certainly plays well though so if you're looking for a quick diversion or enjoy high score games give this one a go.

Random trivia: The NES version of Galaga has been re-released on the Wii Virtual Console (2007), Wii U Virtual Console (2013) and the 3DS eShop (2014).

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