Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Galaga '88

It was a day like any other trip to the Scandia Fun Center.  I locked up my bike outside, got my usual $5 worth of tokens (had a little more pocket money in high school), and cruised around the arcade to see what looked like a good game to start playing.  There I saw my first Galaga '88 machine, sitting nonchalantly in a cluster of games not currently in use.  I ended up spending a good chunk of my tokens on Galaga '88 that afternoon.

Galaga '88 was the sequel to Galaga; well, second sequel when one counts the rare Galaga 3 game, which I believe I had played once prior to seeing Galaga '88.  Galaga and Galaxian had pretty much come and gone by the time Galaga '88 showed up in the arcade, so for me, Galaga '88 brought an immediate sense of nostalgia along with what I discovered were upgraded gameplay elements.

For example, Galaga '88 built on Galaga's feature of being able to have your ship be captured (deliberately) by a boss alien, and using your next ship (life) to shoot said alien once it came down from the formation, thereby granting you a double ship.  Galaga '88 allowed a double ship to be captured and gave you the opportunity to do the same in order to get a _triple_ ship, which was a mass of firepower (albeit via a much wider target for enemy shots).  You could even start your game with a double ship (and 1 life left) to try to accelerate this process at the start of the game.

Galaga '88 also had the concept of warping to different dimensions.  Through the collection of two canisters, after finishing a challenging (bonus) stage, you would warp to the next dimension.  Each dimension had aliens with various abilities and characteristics making the game easier or harder to play, so some strategy needed to be used to decide when and if to collect sufficient canisters to warp.  The big boss alien was also different in each dimension.

As a musician, one of the biggest highlights of Galaga '88 for me was the music.  All of the music, be it, in-game, credits, challenging stages were all great.  In fact, the challenging stages had the extra special touch of each one using music from a different kind of dance.  The first few, if I recall correctly, were waltz, tango, swing and samba.  In the challenging stages, the aliens would move/dance in time with the music, which was both highly entertaining as well as challenging to try to shoot them down.  Pattern memorization was key.

I managed to find a Galaga '88 machine at a recent California Extreme expo, and had a great time playing it again as an adult.  Truth be told, I managed to score higher on it as an adult than as a teenager.  With age comes experience?

What games bring you straight back into nostalgia land?


  1. I love Galaga! I could shoot them aliens anytime! LOL

    There are a lot of nostalgic games that are not around anymore ("around" meaning available everywhere; they may be in the arcade shows): Bubbles, Donkey Kong 3, Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory, Pooyan, Nibbler, Major Havoc, and a whole lot more.

    Sonnia J. Kemmer

  2. I never was much of a serious gamer, but I spent hours and hours playing a table top Galaga machine in my local dairy joint back in the 80's (sadly, well before Galaga 88'). I always say if I ever win the lottery, I am definitely getting one of these! I've tried several redux versions of Galaga that comes out now for each incarnation of Nintendo and Playstation, but they just aren't the same. Thanks for reminding me of a really good childhood memory!

    1. I know what you mean re: inferior ports. The best one I've found (other than using an emulator like MAME) was a 5-in-1 self-contained joystick that you plugged straight into the TV. The one I'm thinking of had Galaxian, Galaga and three other games I can't recall the names of at the moment.