All the way back in 1978, millions of arcade aficionados got their first taste of civil defense experience by protecting the planet from those pesky Space Invaders. And like all good arcade games, competition would soon follow. The next year, Namco introduced Galaxian, a similar game with a few extra bells and whistles. Then, in 1981, they followed up with a sequel, one that would go on to become a certified hit in the video game world. Thy name was Galaga.
Released by Midway in the United States, Galaga‘s screen and controls were familiar to fans of earlier incarnations, but this was a whole new game, filled with unique challenges. The player controlled a spaceship at the bottom of the screen, moving from left to right and shooting up at alien enemies as they entered, assembled in formation and swooped down at you. The insectoid aliens could be destroyed by one hit except for the boss Galagas that required two hits to be blasted out of the sky. One hit would turn them blue and another would finish off the job. This game introduced bonus rounds to the arcade world, allowing players with high enough scores to earn even more points without retaliation from the alien fleet.
Nothing all that different thus far, until you consider that fearsome tractor beam possessed by the boss spaceships that could suck your vessel into the Galaga fleet. That’s right, you had to evade that formidable weapon on top of everything else. Or did you? When a ship was captured and you had another ship in the stable, the trick was to shoot the boss Galaga that trapped your first vessel. Destroying that Galaga freed up your captured ship, which then rejoined your side and you now had double the fire power. This little twist to the game drew many fans to Galaga, who started sacrificing ships on purpose to gain that extra edge.
Galaga quickly elbowed Galaxian into the dusty back room of the local arcade and continued to reign supreme for many years to come. It spawned three sequels, countless clones, and remakes for its 20th and 25th anniversary. It’s still considered one of the top arcade games of the golden era.
If the game of Galaga persuaded you to empty your pockets of quarters on numerous occasions, we welcome your memories of this classic arcade game in our comments section.