Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, space fighter pilots and veterans, of the galactic wars! We have some excellent news for you and other fans of arcade shooters. You’ll no longer need to suffer long lines at the arcade, stuffing quarter after quarter into the infernal machine hoping for one last shot to take down the alien menace! With the new home version of Namco’s Galaga, the battle is right at your fingertips on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
I always enjoy a fast-paced, action-packed, no nonsense arcade game, so imagine my delight when I discovered the game would be coming to everyone’s favorite modern gaming machine. On the NES, the game is called Galaga: Demons of Death. At its core, it’s the same old Galaga we all love to hate in the arcades. What you see is what you get. But what you get is something truly wonderful—one of the best arcade games around in the comfort of your own home! Sure you pay more for the game up front, but you can play as often as you like! Plus, you could always charge the neighborhood kids 25 cents a pop to try and pay for the Game Pak.
This game has state-of-the-art graphics (well early ‘80s state-of-the-art), with realistic ships and insane alien spacecraft on the attack. I especially like the color schemes used on each of the ships. It’s easy to tell which are the drones and who’s in charge. The game play is simple and intuitive, with quick movement and responsive firing. You’ll have to carefully dodge alien attacks while blasting away at progressively faster waves of ships from an attacking armada. There are bonuses throughout, but dangers as well. This time around, the aliens have a trick up their sleeve—capturing your own ship and turning it against you!
The stages themselves are the standard shoot your way through space types we’ve seen in the arcades, with fun little bonus stages popping up every few waves. Because the levels increase in speed and difficulty each time, the challenge stays fresh. I keep trying to top my own high scores, it’s just too bad the cartridge doesn’t save them.
While I enjoyed the graphics and gameplay, I found the sound lacking. There wasn’t really much here but occasional music and repetitive sound effects. One can only hear the screaming sound of an alien spacecraft or the laser blast of one’s own ship so many times before turning the television’s volume knob to zero. We’ve heard good music in so many Nintendo games recently, so it’s a bit disappointing to get something on the level of an Atari.
Aside from my gripes with the sound, I enjoyed Galaga: Demons of Death and shall return to the game often. While it might seem a little dated when compared to other recent releases like Life Force and Legendary Wings, this one still has that magic ingredient that keeps me coming back for more. So what are you waiting for, ensign? Don your piloting gear, hop in your space fighter and set a course for adding this game to your NES library today!
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Finally we have a nearly arcade-perfect port of Galaga for the home console! This is one of the best arcade shooters of its era and fans will appreciate the effort put into this one. If you like challenging NES games, this one should be on your list of games to purchase next.
Based in Colorado, David Buck is an author, musician, and media specialist. In his spare time, he composes music, writes science fiction, and builds scale models, mostly starships and movie cars.