Namco definitely brings the goods when it comes to games, Ridge Racer detractors be damned. To celebrate the anniversary of Pac-Man, they brought us the awesome Pac-Man Championship Edition. On the heels of the success of Pac-Man CE, Namco brought us a re-imagined Galaga with the excellent Galaga Legions, released in August 2008. I have given up getting some of the achievements in Legions, and now play for fun which this game has in spades.
Graphically, the game is simply beautiful, from background to playfield. The eye candy is almost non-stop, as you'll see with some of the screenshots included in this review. There are different styles of graphical presentation of the playfield, from the new suped-up graphics to the ancient pixelated graphics of a time that, well, doesn't seem like it ever existed without your eye pressed up against an old arcade machine.
Galaga Legions offers two gameplay modes, Adventure Mode and Championship Mode. Adventure Mode takes you from Level 1 through Level 5, while Championship Mode allows you to challenge high scores on individual levels. Personally, I like the Championship mode, because it allows me time to breath after finishing a level. Many a time I would be playing Adventure and I would have an itch or sneeze or I would hear something in the next room, distracting me for maybe a half of a second, leading to my destruction.
Each wave of Galaga ships will telegraph their attacks with lines being drawn on the screen. The speeds and types of enemies are not telegraphed, which has you expecting everything from harmless groups of Galaga rushing in line, or waves of randomly appearing bunches of Galaga that break apart and fly in all different directions. Thankfully, your ship has two lamprey ships that you can set out in different places on the playfield, firing in multiple directions, or keep them on your ship to add more firepower. Keeping the lamprey with your ship only allows forward-firing, which in this game just doesn't cut it. On the bottom right shot, the purple rings below your ship are captured Galaga ships that now follow your lead as 2 big groups of lamprey, firing away at ships that appear on your sides or behind.
How the hell am I supposed to survive this with only firing forward? That's just it, you won't, so forget about it. The difficulty level in Galaga Legions is sort of like a rollercoaster. There will be sections where you will destroy everything quickly by knocking out the largest target first (in the above shot, a couple of those orange circles are set on top of those larger targets. When they blow up, they will take out entire rows, entire sections or, depending on the layout of the enemies, the entire screen will be cleared of enemies.
The music isn't spectacular, but is serviceable and doesn't distract you from the gameplay. The sounds of the battle sounds pretty good as well, not over-the-top but familiar to those who have played Galaga games before. As for options, you can watch replays of your plays that are saved on your hard drive, and compare scores on the leaderboards.
If you like classic games and classic game re-imagination, Galaga Legions does not disappoint. It looks awesome, and plays great. Mastering the lamprey ships may take some time, but once you get the hang of it, you just might get passed Level 5, where I am currently stuck. I will beat Level 5 some day.... some day. Galaga Legions is available on the XBox Live Arcade for 800 pts, or between $10 and $20 on the Namco Museum Virtual Arcade (along with over 25 other titles)
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