Galaxy Warfighter is a game that borrows heavily from retro arcade shooters of the ‘80s that became popularized with NES hits like Gradius and Life Force. It features 100 levels (!) of side-scrolling goodness. Flying through space and destroying fleets of ships seems like a lot of fun – and it is – at first. Unfortunately, its very repetitive nature and early on difficulty spike make this game a hard one to enjoy.
When I first saw images from this game, I thought right away this would be one that I would enjoy. Scrolling shooters were some of my favorite games in the arcades growing up. There was no shortage back in the day, from the aforementioned hits from Konami and others like Raiden, and R-Type were some of the most fun I had at the arcade.
Galaxy Warfighter looks to try and capture the side-scrolling intensity of classic shoot’em-ups and although it crams way more stages into the game, they are fairly short. Each level consists of flying through a bunch of ships, destroying as many as possible, and then destroying a boss. When an enemy ship is destroyed, they become coins. Collecting these will allow your ship to be upgraded with new abilities, better guns, more armor, etc. Every few levels a new ship type is added to enemy armada that is thrown at you. Each section takes only about a minute and a half before you reach the boss where you’ll have to learn its pattern to defeat it. Whether you live or die all of the money you’ve amassed up to that point will stay with you, so you can always upgrade your ship. This is the exact opposite of most games (think roguelikes) these days, so that’s a nice surprise.
Control is solid and responsive and flying around is easy. Your ship is on auto-fire so there is no need to keep holding or tapping a button. There are abilities that can be purchased that use buttons, but aren’t used anywhere near as much as the main gun. There are several different upgrades that can be purchased with the coins you’ve collected. You can choose to increase the power of your main gun or grab some extra armor so you can take more hits before being destroyed. A shield power-up will help deflect some incoming fire as well. All of the upgrades are permanent, which is a nice progression mechanic.
However, when it comes to our gameplay ranking score, it’s not all about controls, but also level design, fun factor, and challenge. A game with great design will gradually increase the difficulty as you progress and make you feel good while doing it. Unfortunately the game has uneven challenge that will spike at certain points, making the game rage inducing. Bosses are especially tough – even the early ones, which makes the game more punishing than it needs to be. On the flipside, once you’ve died several times and have collected enough cash you can upgrade your ship and then it’s even possible to kill the bosses without them touching you. There didn’t seem to be a middle ground – either the game was way too hard or way too easy.
Adding insult to injury the boss variety is severely lacking. The game tends to use the same four bosses over and over again. They featured the same attack patterns, but added more hit points, making them giant bullet sponges. That’s not how you make a game more fun to play and it actually decreased my desire to keep going.
The presentation is hit and miss. The graphics look great – almost right out of a ‘80s arcade machine. Blowing up ships feels good and the hit boxes around the enemies and your ship are spot-on. The backgrounds are colorful, although it would have been nice to switch it up from space levels to planet side ones every now and then. Where the game really suffers is in the soundtrack. There are basically two songs for the entire game. You get a jingle in the hanger and another while flying. There’s not much else, which is extremely disappointing because the best shooters on the planet have amazing soundtracks.
Galaxy Warfighter is a great looking retro shooter that had a ton of potential. A terrible soundtrack, uneven difficulty spikes, repetitive boss encounters, and uninspired gameplay make for an average experience. The price is relatively low (about $7), but there are NES and SNES games that cost about the same that are more worthy of your time and money.
Galaxy Warfighter Review
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 2/102/10
- Gameplay - 5/105/10
- Lasting Appeal - 3/103/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
If you like shooters and are really looking for something to play, flip a coin. Galaxy Warfighter’s lack of a solid soundtrack and its repetitiveness make for a dull experience that only the most desperate of SHMUP fans should seek out.