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Shouting Galaga Laga Laga Laga August 28, 2008

Posted by Chris in Console, Games, Reviews.
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The retro revamp is not a new phenomenon in the world of videogames, but of late old-school revivals have been particularly common, with Space Invaders and Pac-Man both receiving excellent updates. Galaga Legions (from the folks behind the recent Championship Edition version of the latter) isn’t quite the same as the aforementioned lovingly-crafted tributes, mainly because if it didn’t have Galaga in the name, you’d never know it was Namco’s seminal blaster being remade.

Waves of increasingly tough enemies and the action taking place across a single screen are about the only similarities Legions shares with the 1981 coin-op, with a host of embellishments making this Galaga a very different beast.  For starters, you’ve gained two handy satellites, which you can position using the right analogue stick, setting them in place individually to shoot up, down or to either side. No diagonals, though – some things are determinedly old-school, not least the fearsome challenge the game offers. The game throws enormous swarms of enemy ships at you right from the outset, and from all directions – it’s a good job you can move from the bottom of the screen this time round. You’re given little visual clues, not only to the entry points of the Galaga enemies (small orange boxes pop up, like a particularly bad case of malware), but also to their projected flight path (a series of blue lines, often interlocking). Though these are intended to help the player, they more often than not simply induce a sense of rising panic, as you desperately guide your ship to a potential safe spot, before realising with a sinking heart that many of your foes shoot bullets too. Occasionally, you’ll encounter a strange type of enemy craft which, when destroyed, sucks all the other onscreen ships into a vortex, creating a barricade of tiny drones which afford you further protection – though inevitably that lasts about thirty seconds before things get back to gloriously hectic ‘normality’.

With all the notifications and the enormous heaving masses of enemy ships, Legions gets a little too busy a little too often, occasionally resulting in slightly unfair deaths. Yet it offers a substantial challenge across its seemingly meagre selection of modes (two) and stages (five), ranking it alongside Ikaruga as one of the most enjoyably hardcore – and surprisingly long-lasting – downloads on the Live Arcade service.

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