No. 9: Galaga
Slick, Seminal Shoot-em-up from Midway (and Namco)

Galaga. Midway (1981).Galaga. Midway (1981). An important milestone in shoot-em-up history. Moon Cresta and Galaxians had shown us that Space Invaders with a little more vroom could result in true shoot-em-up thrills. Both its name and the game play are derived from the seminal Galaxians, but the whole thing is so much more flowing. Aliens arrive in streams to build up a formation at the top of the screen, giving you time to reduce their numbers before the enemy onslaught. Only one power-up in this game, but a very interesting concept never used outside of the Galaga series - if you allowed an alien mother ship to steal your fighter , you would lose that life, but could regain it  with a well-placed shot to the captor. In fact allowing your ship to be captured was a genuine tactic, because when you rescued your rightful property, it would sit beside your current ship, and give you double firepower!

Every 3 levels came a break in the onslaught in the form of a Challenge Stage. 40 aliens , broken into 4 or 5 separate chains came flying onto the screen, did a little loop and then flew off again. These manouevres were always the same for each challenge stage and the aliens here never fired bombs, so this was just a points-gaining exercise, and a chance to show off your shooting prowess. Shooting down all 40 aliens rewarded you with a bonus of 10,000 points, a merry tune and a "Perfect!" flashed up on the screen.


A capture in progress.
Galaga stands the test of time very well, being very playable and immediately accessible today. To me and my little teenage gang, this game was known for a while as Moon Alien. Why? Well, because this game adorned a particularly greasy corner of our local chip-shop in South London and was very probably a clone, because it was housed in a grotty cabinet emblazoned with the legend "Moon Alien". So, that's what we called it, until we learned otherwise.

Features: Early use of 2 shots on screen at the same time, first power-ups?

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