Galaga – Demons of Death!

Galaga Feature

There are some days when you just want to sit back in your favorite chair after a long day at work, turn on the ol’ tube, scoff at everything on TV because it’s terrible, and pop in a video game instead.  But, since your day was so taxing, you want to play something that doesn’t require a lot of thinking or dexterity, so what do you do?  You go old-school, that’s what!  And you pick a game that’s as mindless as the enemies you’re taking out: Galaga!  That’s right, soldier!  We’re going bug hunting!  And we’re going in with the first wave! Means more bugs fer us to kill!  And this is for all you new people: I only have one rule. Everyone fights. No one quits. You don’t do your job, I’ll shoot you myself. You get me?

Galaga Box

Game: Galaga

Console: NES

Developer: Bandai

Publisher: Namco Ltd.

Release Year: 1988

Recently re-released on the Wii U Virtual Console, Galaga is the sequel to Galaxian, a drop in the ocean of Space Invaders clones that were flooding arcades in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  But enough about history!  This is Galaga I’m talking about!  This game is legend!  Everyone knows and loves them some Galaga!  And for good reason because it kicks ass!


When Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk are all in the same room, and Galaga takes priority, you know it’s a good game.

Galaga is one of my all-time favorites.  Well, Galaga ’90 on the TurbograFX-16 is my favorite in the franchise, but Galaga holds a special place in my heart.  I had it on my NES when I was a young ‘un, and I played the hell out of it.  I never cared about high scores.  I just wanted to kill me some bugs and see how far I could get.  I’m pretty sure my love for Galaga fostered my future sci-fi tastes.  It would explain my unhealthy obsession with Ender’s Game and Starship Troopers.


Despite Jake Busey’s involvement.

After replaying Galaga over the weekend, I found it to be just as engaging as the first time I’d ever played.  So what makes it so timeless and good?  It’s simple, really.  By which I’m referring to the reason of its timelessness and why it’s so good and not as a phrase to qualify a forthcoming reason.  Simplicity is why it’s so great.  Get it?  Sigh… I immediately regret this joke.  Can we just move on now?


Please accept this as a token of my apology, Internet.

The game is very simple.  You move left and right, shoot, and don’t die.  That’s it.  And it’s a blast, especially when you don’t want to play something so involving.  Just turn it on and start shooting.  There’s no need for any of that girly narrative bullshit!  Just explode bugs in space!  What more could you want?

Yet that’s the beauty of Galaga: it does give you more.  So much more!  For instance, there’s a risk/reward system. Go ahead and let one of those Boss Galagas hit you with their tractor beam.  You’ll lose a life, but if you shoot down the dick who stole your man while he’s flying at you, you’ll get your old ship back in the form of an add-on to your current ship!  Now you have double the fire power!  And as an added bonus, you can pretend you’re rescuing your brainwashed buddy.  There’s nothing like a couple of dudes reuniting and teaming up for revenge exploding!  Making your own fun in video games always makes them better.


Damn it, Richard!  Snap out of it!  It’s ME!  You bug bastards, what have you done!?

Galaga is also a rhythm game.  Think about it: you only get two bullets, and if those two bullets don’t hit their mark, you have to wait like an asshole until they leave the screen before you can fire any more shots.  But, if you get the rhythm down, you can blast through enemy waves quickly and efficiently without having to stand there wallowing in your shame as the space bugs laugh at you (probably).  Or, if you’re anything like me (i.e. Manly), you just smash the living hell out of the fire button until everything’s dead because wiping out wave after wave of bugs is irrationally satisfying.  At least, that’s what I used to think.  After playing through the game again, I now have a theory as to why it’s so fun:  Galaga is America!


Thanks, Japan!  Sorry about all those wartime propaganda posters and cartoons…

Well, the game at least appeals to Americans.  Let me explain.  My high school American History teacher used to tell us stories of how colonial America defeated the British, presumably because he lived through it.  Because he was very old.  Get it?  Wow… I’m off tonight.  Anyway, he told us that the Brits would come at the colonists in formations while the colonists stayed back and picked them off one by one as they got closer.  That’s exactly how Galaga is.  Enemy waves come in from all sides and fly in a specific pattern before they find their spot in the attack formation, which is always the same on every level.  You’d think this formula would get old fast, but it doesn’t.  In fact, it’s the game’s greatest strength.  I love completely obliterating the enemy before they even get a chance to form and attack.  I thrill in waiting at the corner of the screen and then unloading on the bugs as they enter, destroying the entire wave before any of them actually get on screen.  It just never gets boring, and I think being an American steeped in our culture and history makes this kind of demolition endlessly gratifying.

33rd Regiment of Foot Wellingtons Redcoat "Scum of the Earth"

Tighten formation, men!  We’re not going to let a few bullets ruin months of choreography, now are we?

Despite its overused enemy formations and patterns and the fact that I referred to the game as “mindless,” Galaga isn’t easy.  I’d say the average player might get to level 7 or 8 before losing all their ships.  Dedication and practice is needed in order to see the later levels, even though they all look exactly the same.  Plus, the difficulty fluctuates strangely.  Some of the later levels are actually easier then some of the earlier ones.  In Level 10, the bugs don’t even fire at you during their initial sweep across the screen, but some of the levels before had bugs firing relentlessly at you as well as trying to crash into you as they entered the screen.  It’s not a big deal; it’s just a little weird.


Pfft.  You think Level 12 is hard?  Level 6 makes Level 12 look like Level 10, n00b.

Galaga is a fantastic shooter that will never go out of style.  As long as shooting at endless hordes of bugs stays relevant in our society, so too will Galaga.

Thanks for your Playing!  Anyone else here huge Galaga fans?  Why do you guys think Galaga is so awesome?  Anyone think differently?  Let me know in the comments so I can laugh at how you misunderstand the concept of “fun.”


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