Galaga Game

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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In 1981, the Galaga game helped revolutionize the arcade world with a simple but highly addictive formula. The objective was simple: navigate your "fighter" back and forth while shooting alien "Galaga" and earning points. At the same time, of course, it was incumbent upon the fighter to avoid being shot by the insect-shaped invaders.

A player could rack up additional points by destroying the "boss" Galaga at the top of the screen. The boss deployed a legion of Galaga to descend upon the fighter in looping, meandering flight patterns designed to disorient and confuse the fighter (and ultimately obliterate it). In other cases, the boss Galaga would itself descend and capture the fighter with its inescapable tractor beam. In 1981, this made for highly sophisticated entertainment.

The Galaga Game Today

The Galaga game today remains as popular as ever, thanks to a swarm of imitators, sequels, and improvements. Galaga was itself a successor to Galaxian, a game whose strategies closely resembled those of Galaga. But the second installment added more tricks and features such as "double fighters" and a way to incapacitate the Galaga fighters (arcade game buffs are already familiar with this; novices need only comb the Web to find the secret).

Like the Ms Pacman arcade game, Galaga endured in part because of its simple design. There were precious few arcade parts and controls to master--just a multi-directional joystick and a "fire" button. And every three levels presented players with the chance to earn bonus points on a special screen. No matter how companies tried to improve on this formula, the original Galaga persevered and has since become a part of the video game canon.


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