Posts Tagged ‘Galaga’

So I’m sitting around playing Dead Space 2 last night and something hit me. No it wasn’t a thought, but a severe numbness in my right hand. For the past couple of years I’ve played it off as nothing, but recently it returned once again. It’s become quite a hindrance as of late happening a couple of times a week. Usually I would just press the pause button and shake it off and then continue playing a few minutes later, but I begin to think about if there is something wrong with me. Maybe it was time that I found out.

I know that I’m completely healthy, and that I have no lagging injuries. So I decided to go online and look it up. My first thought was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I hear about it quite a bit lately, but I figured that this can’t be what I’m experiencing. As I started reading about it on Wikipedia I realized that it does mention “numbness of the thumb, index, long and radial half of the ring finger.” This is exactly what I was going through. Could I be in the early stages of CTS? Could it possibly be arthritis? I hope not. To me arthritis is something that old people go through. I’m not that old. I’m 38 for Pete’s sake! I’m not even close to experiencing my mid life crisis yet.

While this numbness in my hands has been an issue there is something else that concerns me. My interest. Lately, I’ve seen a sharp decline in my interest when playing a game. That’s not normal for me. Some nights when I hop online I just stare at the screen. Part of this has to do with either I have no idea what I want to play, or all of a sudden I’m just not interested. With that in mind I wondered whether there was a Cialis or Viagra type of pill for gamers who have a lack of gaming interest, or is the solution simply a six pack of Mountain Dew and a large bag of Doritos. Sadly, the junk food and beverage solution will only lead to obesity, and that’s clearly not in the cards for me.

So here I sit writing this article, and begin to contemplate whether it’s time to put the controller down for good. I’ve been gaming since I was a little kid growing up during the ’80s. The days of the going to the local video arcade, or just playing at home on the Atari 2600 where my imagination really took over especially when objects on screen looked like various geometric shapes. Those were the days when I was playing games that included Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig-Dug, Robotron 2084, Gauntlet, Space Invaders, Defender, and countless others. I was in love with the technology even though these edgy visuals of yesteryear are very low tech compared to today’s high definition standards.

Thirty years of gaming sure is a long time. Sometimes it still feels like only yesterday when my parents brought home that Atari 2600. Plenty of consoles have come and gone after that humble beginning. The NES, Master System, Genesis, Saturn, Playstation, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox, and currently the Xbox 360. Consoles that featured a plethora of games that still trigger plenty of happy memories. Getting the high score, warp zones, epic boss battles, saving the princess, saving the world, racing to the finish line, blast processing, cheat codes, flawless victories, fatalities, tales of souls and swords, warriors needing food badly, beating up prostitutes with baseball bats after they filled my needs and raised my health, that laughing dog, a plumber, a hedgehog, a Solid Snake, a Master Chief, achievement unlocked. All these moments and more were fun and exciting, but all good moments at some point and time must come to an end. Is that end coming soon?

With a new Xbox console set to arrive later this year I started to think if I still have one more console generation left in me. Back in 2005, I said that the Xbox 360 would probably be my last console. Eight years later I’ve revisited that statement I made. As I begin to approach the unavoidable age of 40 in 2014 I think to myself whether I still want to be playing new video games. Do I still have it left in me to take on new adventures? What about starting to play a new franchise or two? Can I still compete online? What about the numbness in my hands? Maybe I make that final decision and make 2013 the end of the road. Maybe I just play the games I have until my Xbox 360 says no more and shuts down forever. One thing is for certain. I don’t see myself playing games at 50. I just won’t be able to keep up with those young whipper snappers in Call of Duty: Whatever.

For now I’m going to enjoy what this year in gaming offers while hoping that the numbness in my hands don’t ruin it. By E3 this June, I’ll know if my gaming road continues for one last run, or ends in retirement.

Pros:
A Great Mix Of Old School Classics
Addictive Gameplay And Plenty Of Replay Value

Cons:
Some Sort Of Multiplayer Would’ve Been Nice

Just imagine this. What if you could infuse bits and pieces of old school classics and blend them in to a brand new game. Sounds crazy right? I’m sure that most of you don’t really care about older games because you weren’t born then. Well it’s time for us old guys to educate you. Today, I’m reviewing the game Space Bat on Xbox Live Indie Games, and this title brings back plenty of old school nostalgia and blends them in to make a new game. It’s also one of the more addicting games I play on the Indie Games Platform.

Space Bat combines the elements of three old school classics: Space Invaders, Galaga/Galaxian, Arkanoid/Breakout, and Pac-Man. The background and enemies represent Space Invaders. The bricks, Vaus and gameplay mechanics represent Arkanoid. Pac-Man is basically the ball and he leaves a trail of pellets in his wake. Did you like all those games? Well if you did then you need to check this game out.

Those of you who have played Arkanoid/Breakout before will understand how to play Space Bat. Using your Vaus you guide Pac-Man towards the Space Invaders. Sometimes there might be some bricks in the way but good ol’ Pac-Man will take care of that without the need of a power pill. Beware of some invaders who will swoop down to the bottom Galaga/Galaxian style (even with the music). Invaders that get caught on your Arkanoid Vaus will cling on until Pac-Man eats them. Don’t you just love all these old school gameplay mechanics? The invaders also carry Arkanoid style power-ups which last as long as a Pac-Man power pill so make sure you take advantage of them. However, you might want to bounce Pac-Man back up towards the invaders or else you get the infamous Pac-Man dying sound.

Space Bat’s single-player levels are filled with plenty of challenges and replay value. While that’s good news to some I feel that some sort of co-op or competitive multiplayer (locally of course) would have made the game even better. You know what else would have made the game even better? An Atari 2600 joystick! This way the old school concept would have been perfect. There is an option to brag to your online friends with your high score which should bring in some competition, but nothing is better than having someone with you jamming to the game.

Space Bat brings back a lot of memories of games of the past. Even going as far as bringing back some of the sounds even if they’re not arcade perfect. Old school game fans will love Space Bat, and even some new school players will get into it as well. The best part is that Space Bat can get quite addictive so make sure you set some time aside to play this game. Now back to working on that high score because 94,000 is not going to cut it for a friend challenge.

Pros:
Fun game with lots of shooting action
Focus Fire a welcome feature

Cons:
Game feels a little too easy compared to previous Galaga Legions

Galaga Legions is just like what Pac-Man Championship Edition is…an updated version of the classic original. While Pac-Man’s updated look felt like more of the same the idea behind Galaga felt like a re-imagining of the wheel. Galaga Legions was a tough game where memorization became key as wave after wave of enemies would literally fill the screen making you run for your life trying to avoid certain death. With the release of Galaga Legions DX, the concept is the same however the technique of shooting has gone through a big change.

Like any previous Galaga game the idea is to shoot down all enemies on the screen then wash, rinse and repeat the same thing over and over again. As a retro gamer, I found Galaga a fun game to challenge my high scores against friends and strangers alike. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge. Then many years later Galaga Legions came along and after playing a few rounds the one thing that went through my mind was “man this game is a pain in the ass.” At times I got so frustrated that I would throw my controller down and have fits of rage. All this memorization was really screwing with my head. Eventually after awhile I got over it and life went on, but how would I respond to the new DX title. Well that answer is with much happiness and joy.

Galaga Legions DX is still the same concept as the original Legions game except this time it focuses in on more of a time based attack scheme. Each of the game’s nine areas features five levels of intense shooter action. There’s also a Championship Mode with only five levels. Each of these modes are based on the same idea of getting the highest score possible while completing each level in the shortest amount of time. Speaking of time there’s also a Time Attack Mode which is based on how quickly you dispose of your enemies on each level. Throughout this whole process your being graded on your skills all which are based on points scored. Sounds pretty simple right? Well it really is.

Just like Galaga Legions the use of satellites also play a key role in your fight to survive. In this version however, your satellites stick close to home. Instead of placing satellites in different locations while you run away, each satellite stays with you and all you do is move the right thumbstick to aim and fire. This now makes Galaga Legions DX into a twin-stick shooter which to my account is a fairly common genre on Xbox Live Arcade. Your shots also come in two varieties: direct for a more frontal attack and spread to cover your left and right sides. Capturing enemy ships (which happens at level five of each area) also plays a big role especially when you need to clear larger waves of enemies and also offers that little extra protection when space starts getting a little tight in the corners.

While Galaga Legions DX sounds like good fun for all shmup fans out there let me also address a couple of issues keeping from being a great title. One has to be the difficulty. Even on the hardest difficulty, I found Galaga Legions DX a little too easy with the Focus Fire feature which could be a downer to the hardcore shmup players as they’ll think that the game is “dumbed down.” To others I think they will find this a welcome addition making it more “friendly” to the casual gamer or die-hard Galaga fan. In the end you can’t please everyone. I also have to comment on the whole timer aspect. The original game didn’t have this which made working your way through each level more of a challenge. This is why you have a Time Attack mode. THe main game didn’t need this as well.

If your a Galaga fan then you’ll feel right at home with Galaga Legions DX. Sure it may be a bit simpler in the difficulty department, but it doesn’t really hurt the game as much because you’ll be playing it over and over just to beat that high score. Since it’s also the 30th anniversary of the game you’ll also notice that you can change the enemies to look like the classic arcade games Galaga, Galaxian, and Galpus, or just stick with the current look. Overall, Galaga Legions DX is a lot of fun to play and a definite recommend to shmup fans.