|Mark Ackerman, Glen Parker & Tom
|Mark Ackerman was
granted a patent for his technique of displaying 8 players
across the playfield when the hardware normally only
While it may not be as well known as its sequel Galaga,
Galaxian still holds an important place in videogame history as
one of the forerunners of the "Space Shooter" genre. The
game concept is simple; stop an army of rampaging aliens from
destroying the planet by shooting everything that moves.
While this may not sound like anything we all haven't heard a
thousand times before, back in 1979 it was a new concept.
The Galaxians march back and forth at the top of the screen
closely packed together in formation sporadically firing missiles
as they go. Every now and then a group of Galaxians will
attempt to dive-bomb your ship with some aerial acrobatics and a
barrage of missile fire. Producing these effects on an
arcade machine may not have been a big challenge, but on the 2600
it was almost unthinkable. Getting the 2600 to display seven
moving aliens on one line without massive flicker required major
programming tricks, getting them to dive-bomb was another task
According to programmer Mark Ackerman, the reason
Galaxian is able to display up to eight objects on is that "You
freak out the graphics chip by strobing the registers in exactly
the right order at the right times". This technique made
games like Galaxian possible on the limited 2600 hardware.
Mark's technique was so impressive, that he was granted a
patent for it.
While Galaxian may have been a unique concept back
in 1979, by the time the 2600 version was released in 1983 it had
been vastly improved upon by its sequel Galaga. Atari had
planned to release Galaga for the 2600, but it was ultimately
cancelled due to the 2600's limitations. When plans for the
Atari 7800 were finalized, it was then decided that Galaga would
be a 7800 launch title. While it may not be as flashy as
it's cousin, Galaxian still offers solid gameplay and decent
graphics. Galaxian was yet another arcade license that
helped the 2600 become the most popular system of its day.
||Ship is invincible
|Very late beta
to 2600 Software