Review: Galaxian (Atari 2600)

In this review, we check out a top down shooter called Galaxian. We find out if we should blast off with this game again.

This game was released in 1983.

You basically have three lives. Crashing into an alien or getting shot will instantly destroy you ship. Use up all of your lives and it’s game over. Your task is to destroy the approaching alien monsters coming from space. You can move left and right, but you can only fire one shot at a time.

One interesting element in this game is that one alien will be randomly selected to fly down and shoot at you. If the alien makes it all the way down through the bottom of the screen, the alien will then re-emerge at the top of the screen and put itself back where it was before it flew off and attacked you. In the first wave, only one will come at you at a time. In the waves after, two or three will attack you. I’m not sure if more than that will attack you at a time as I didn’t survive for very long on wave 6.

At the top are two white aliens. If one of those aliens fly down and attack you, they will bring with them two others (likely red ones depending on what you’ve eliminated by that point in time).

A strategy I found useful was to try and take out the white aliens as quickly as possible before they are selected to come down and attack you. After that, the red ones are my next priority before the purple ones and green ones. In a nutshell, I try and go top down in terms of kill priority. This seems to help my survival because the green ones fly side to side the slowest while the other ones tend to fly around faster – making them harder to hit. While it can be useful to take out an alien flying at you, all that happens if you do kill it is that another alien is randomly selected barely a moment later to attack you. So, the dormant aliens are a good choice to go after at your leisure rather than fighting to hit the fast moving ones. Still, killing the attacking aliens can be a good defensive move if one is closing in on you and you’ve run out of screen space as they box you in (which frequently happens).

One criticism I have of this game is that this is more or less one feature away from simply being a ripoff of Space Invaders. The graphics are a little better, but the gameplay is largely the same as that game. That’s not to say there isn’t any enjoyment to be had from this, but it’s not exactly an original game either.

Graphically, this game was pretty decent for the hardware. Compared to other console games at the time, it’s not bad. It wasn’t great compared to other games at the time, but it wasn’t bad either. I did think the screen after you die was interesting, though I wished it didn’t pop up so quick as I wanted to note what score I got after dying in a more easy fashion.

There was no music, but the sound effects were decent enough.

Overall, this is a game that, while not exactly original in any way at the time, isn’t a bad game to play. It is nicely challenging and does offer a little bit of originality as far as I could tell. If you want to see what a game similar to Space Invaders looked like at the time, it isn’t a bad thing to give this game a play. So, overall, it wasn’t a bad game.


Furthest point in game: Top score: 9370 (Wave 6)

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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