Saturday, 28 September 2013

Galaxian Shoot Out

Galaxian was created and developed by Namco and distributed by Midway in 1979.

The creator’s main aim was to improve on the standard Space Invaders game adding a multitude of new features including mini-music intro, multi-coloured animated sprites, swooping aliens, scrolling star field and icons to depict progress and lives.

The game was an instant success and still remains popular today – and it is one of my all-time favourite arcade games.

I thought that this shoot-out would be mammoth due to the huge amounts of clones there are, but I was surprised by just how few they were.

There were a lot of similar shoot-em-ups to Galaxian on the Spectrum and it can sometimes prove difficult to separate genres.

With this in mind I tried to be quite strict about the games I tested.


Of the games, several fell straight into the poor category, with jerky, character based graphics, poor or no sound and terrible controls. Birds (Interface Publications), Convy (Spectrum Computing - right), Galactic Raiders (Titan Programs), Kamikaze (A&F) and Space Defender (Spectrum Computing) all provide a poor experience.

Moving into the middle ground and we get some pretty good games.

Classic Axiens from Bubble Bus at least looks like the arcade game although there is no scrolling star field.
The alien are large, too large I think given the aspect ratio of the screen and this gives the player very little room to manoeuvre. They are nicely animated and move smoothly though, swooping down just like the arcade version.

Sound is adequate but the down side is the pace of the game, making it very difficult to get past the first sheet. Because of the size of the aliens, the tiny amount of room you have and the actual game speed, makes this game more difficult than it should be. Not a bad effort overall, but the difficulty curve is far too high.

Galactians from DK’Tronics (right) had numerous options that allows you to customise the game to suite your needs. When the game starts, we get a good representation of the arcade game with good looking aliens and nice smooth movement and animation.

The game speed is a little slow, even on the higher difficulty levels, that just increase the swoop rate of the aliens. The player ship is a little too large and somehow doesn't match the rest of the graphics.

Overall this is a good game, but a touch more speed and smaller player ship would have helped.

Galakzions from Kikro-Gen looks really nice and even has a scrolling star field, but the aliens are not animated, even when swooping. The score panel is a bit of a distraction with a yellow background and taking up far too much space.

This could have been improved with a few simple things; smaller player ship, animated aliens and a score panel that didn't have a yellow background. Apart from that though, a decent efforts from Mikro-gen.

Galaxians from Artic Computing (right) give a great gaming experience, with nice animated and smooth graphics. The screen aspect ratio is changed by a large control panel on the right that contains your score and lives, and this narrows the play field.

Although there is no star field, you do get a great game that keep drawing you back.

Sound and control are good and the only downside is the lack of a fire sound. Apart from that, a really well written game that could have taken top spot if it hadn't been for another game.

Vegetable Crash from Kuma Computers gives us the basic game but removes the aliens and gives us vegetables to shoot.

Rows of vegetables line up, nicely drawn and animated, occasionally swooping down,and you have to dodge or shoot them. All standard stuff but very nicely done.

The winner though is the official port from Atarisoft, Galaxian. (right)

As you would expect this is very close to the arcade game and even it has not only a scrolling star field but a multi-coloured scrolling star field.

The attract mode is present, setting out the scoring systems and from then on we have a nearly perfect arcade conversion. The only thing missing is the firing sound.

The aliens are all present, correctly drawn and animated, the player ship is right and the game mechanics are spot on. If I had to moan about something, it would be the display of the scores. These are slightly too big for my liking.

Apart from that this is a cracking game and as close as you will get to the real thing on a Spectrum.

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