Classic Made Current
Growing up in a small town is somewhat limiting when it comes to finding an arcade. As a youth, the next best thing for me was a pizza shop that just so happened to have a Galaga arcade cabinet. Any time I had a few extra dollars in my pocket, I would grab a slice of pizza and happily pump any money that remained into the dusty, often semi-broken cabinet nestled behind a pinball machine. To this day, every time I play a game of Galaga, I swear I still smell the faint aroma of pizza sauce and freshly baked dough.
Phantom scents aside, Galaga Legions is very much a true sequel to its classic predecessor. Players are still tasked with destroying wave after wave of Galaga hordes while competing for high scores. Though the basic premise of the original remains, Legions has implemented several changes that really advance the gameplay and bring the classic up to date.
The visuals of Legions are comparable to those found in Geometry Wars 2 and Pac-Man Championship Edition, with everything being coated in flashy neon colors. Enemies and your ship’s gunfire are incredibly vibrant, quickly drawing the player’s attention. Backgrounds are decidedly less busy, mostly showing either a starry abyss or visually toned down objects scrolling beneath. Thankfully, Legion’s visuals are extremely slick and feel like a natural evolution from those of the original. Players even have their choice of three different skins while playing that help to add more variety and nostalgia to the experience.
In the original Galaga, players’ fighters were stuck on the bottom of the screen as they destroyed countless waves of descending enemies. This time around, your foes are much more aggressive and your abilities have been rightfully improved to allow you to compete. Enemies will attack you from every direction, with a faint line appearing just before they emerge onscreen to give you some idea of where the pain will be coming from. Your adversaries will come in a variety of different formations, each containing one or more foes that stand out from the rest. Dispatching these odd looking enemies will result in destroying many, if not all of their surrounding formations. While this may sound easy, as Legion’s difficulty ramps up, getting to these quicker kills becomes increasingly more difficult.
Fortunately, players are given a fully mobile fighter, able to move anywhere on the screen, and two satellites to combat the seemingly never ending formations of opponents. While blasting enemies similarly to the manner in which Galaga fans are accustomed can work somewhat, to be truly successful playing Legions, you will need to make intelligent use of your satellites. Satellites naturally remain attached to your fighter, providing you with greatly improved firepower. With a simple flick of your right analog stick, your satellites become stationary guns that continue firing in whichever direction you’ve pressed. Satellites can be moved at any time by pressing the stick again, or can be reattached to your fighter by flying over them or simply by pressing the right bumper.
The inclusion of these satellites adds a huge amount of strategy to the gameplay. Deciding whether to place your satellites in positions to fire at incoming enemies or to keep them attached to your ship for the firepower bonus can be tough. These types of situations constantly arise and you must make your choices very rapidly, especially in the game’s later stages. Since your satellites are also indestructible, they can be strategically placed within enemy formations to help you deliver a quick deathblow to an entire formation by dispatching its leader.
Unfortunately, Galaga Legions does have some issues that keep it from being a perfect sequel. Players will notice an occasional dip in framerate when the screen fills with action. These don’t happen that often and they rarely affect the gameplay, but they are still noticeable. Legions is also fairly short, being made up of five areas, with five levels each. If one was skilled enough, they could blow through this game in only a few short hours. Players are supplied with an adventure mode, which consist of playing straight through these five areas, and a championship mode that is nothing more than a fancy name for area select. There is no multiplayer to fall back on once you’ve completed these modes either. Mind you, the game can be ridiculously challenging at times, but many will likely complete it and then be left with nothing else to do.
While I do think that this is a great follow up to a classic arcade game, it would have been nice to have just a few more modes to keep you coming back. Still, the visuals are great, the gameplay is amazing, and the strategy that has been added to the tried and true formula of the original Galaga makes this one arcade follow up that does its predecessor justice. Fans of the classic will definitely want to check this one out and I would also encourage anyone who likes shooters to give it a go as well. You may not be getting a ten hour game, but it will definitely be a blast while it lasts.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.9 Graphics
If Legions were a child, I would swear its parents were the original Galaga and Geometry Wars. Neon colors plus updated visuals make for a visually appealing nostalgia trip. 4.4 Control
The controls are smooth and very responsive, especially when deploying satellites. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Techno music mixes with great sound effects to create an audible experience that fits Legions perfectly. 3.1 Play Value
Legions is incredibly fun, but the serious lack of modes will end your experience far too early. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.