Galaga Legions DX review

The thirtieth anniversary isn’t pearl or diamond. No, if Galaga Legions DX is any indication, the proper way to mark the occasion is extending its legacy with a remastered, rethought, and massively rejiggered version of the shmup classic that came out in 1981. To be sure, DX barely resembles the shooter it ostensibly improves upon, and not just because of the graphical overhaul it’s gotten. This is more of a finessing of 2008’s Galaga Legions, which is to say it’s not exactly the most essential Galaga around.

Provided you’re willing to rethink what Galaga means to you, though, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. As in Namco Bandai’s reimagining of Pac-Man in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX last year, Galaga’s reboot is insanely faster and provides far more enemies to face than its source material. However, this game has also been made much, much easier – presumably under the assumption that if people want to enjoy the original recipe, they’ve had their chances.

The first way DX has been made more approachable is evident right away: your side cannons are now strapped to your ship. In previous iterations, they were to be stationed at positions onscreen to ward off the oncoming onslaught. These will give you coverage and help hedge your bets when aiming: shoot toward the top of the screen and they’ll automatically take out any enemy hoping to flank you kamikaze-style. This, coupled with enemies who double as bombs – taking them out at strategic moments lays waste to everyone in proximity – makes for far less of a challenge overall. But on the upside, it also means you can feel like a badass playing DX, instead of how it used to be playing Galaga: getting your ass handed to you time after time.

DX therefore transforms into a foray in lightweight bullet-hell territory. You’ll be able to inch closer and closer to enemies than ever before, winding your way clockwise to get at their tasty throbbing weakspots. Holding still assures your demise, and you won’t want to sit still anyway since the waves of enemies take on the form of twitchy puzzle-solving: each screen has a “correct” sequence in which you should dispense the other ships to assure a maximum score and also the least possible time spent.

There are time attack and other smaller stages, each broken into five larger waves, but both of those are entrees to the new championship mode. It also has five levels with several enemy waves in them, but your mettle is tested after vanquishing those in the “super-level” which can have up to 99 waves depending on how you’ve done thus far. That’s where score-freaks will spend most of their time trying to compete in the global arena, since there’s nothing more humbling than thinking you’ve been spanking Galaga Legions DX only to discover you don’t even rank against other players.

All in all, this might not be the most revolutionary Galaga to date (that credit of course belongs to the original), but it’s a mighty fine diversion worth sinking your teeth into.

Jul 8, 2011

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