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Galaga / Galaxian

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Reviewed by Diane Cote Another one of these golden oldie beauts from Nintendo. And you know, this classic calvacade is making me a very happy on-the-go gamer. Of these two shooters, Galaga is obviously superior but it's always a treat to get more than one complete game thrown into the bundle, even if the complexity of these two games put together could be housed inside the memory of a digital watch these days. They might not look like much anymore but there's no question about it, these classic carts represent some of the finest days in gaming. If you're at all interested in discovering a little about the early days of the video game period (which came just after the Jurassic era), or if you're just looking for something to deliver a solid portable punch, Galaga/Galaxian should be near the top of your Game Boy's next purchase list. Galaxian was the first. It rose from the unsettled ashes of Taito's legendary Space Invaders. Only this time, the invaders not only came in color, they actually swooped down from their alignment to buzz your fighter. This added bit of "much too close to me, I'm freaking out" adrenaline rush used to be the cat's butt in the early eighties but now, and I'm being brutally honest here, the game plods along like a distracted snail. I must admit, after playing the sampling of Galaxian that can be found in the loading screen of Ridge Racer, I was looking forward to playing the full-on Galaxian assault. Too bad, then, that it is totally overshadowed by its partner on this mini-cart. The graphics of Galaxian are solid. On the Super Game Boy, the game is quite pretty to look at, with visuals that look somewhat similar to the twinkle of Christmas tree ornamentation. The animation of the enemy ships hurtling towards your vulnerable and puny craft has been faithfully recreated on the Game Boy's tiny screen. Namco handled the port over of their own code and they've done a bang up job despite the Game Boy's obvious hardware limitations. One area in which the developers excelled on both games was the audio imagery. Galaxian has that famous twirling electronic jumble of blips and bleeps in its intro and the Game Boy's Galaga comes complete with its full digital orchestration. For me, just listening to both of these games in action is like smelling mom's Saturday morning pancakes from a winter morning long ago. Galaga has a lot going for it. It truly has stood the test of time much better than its chip-mate here. The idea of allowing the enemy ship to come down and steal one of your craft away from you and then being able to blast that stinker to bits so you can double up on your firepower was, and remains, inspired. We have Gyruss, the illegitimate offspring of Galaga and Tempest, set up in the Playground and I have to say its greatest feature is being able to score an extra cannon for your ship. Thank you Galaga. The other great landmark of Galaga is the challenge level that appears after every two or three waves. This is the granddaddy of bonus levels with fleets of ships hovering above you, zipping past and taunting you like crazy. The idea here is to blow away everything so you can earn yourself a smashing 10,000 points. Simple, yet so effective. Galaga / Galaxian are two games that have indelibly attached themselves to the historical framework of this tremendous industry. Long time game players will not only have memories of these two classics but will probably also have a favorite story or two surrounding them. The Game Boy is a great system for diversions like this because, quite frankly, just like the classic cart software itself, the Game Boy hardware continues to prove that when it comes to certain video games, time is nothing more than wind in its stride.

I'm giving Galaga / Galaxian 8 out of 10

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