|Joseph Tung (Programmer) and Alan Murphy
|Port of the 1979 Namco coin-op
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. Although it may not look like much now, back in the
day Galaxian was considered to be the 'bees knees'. Not only was
Galaxian wildly popular, but it was also widely cloned and pirated. Because
of this when Atari licensed Galaxian they decided to enforce the copyright.
Many rival companies were forced to alter their versions of Galaxian
or cancel them altogether.
The 5200 does a fine job at recreating the arcade classic.
The graphics are sharp with crisp (if not slightly garish) colors.
The non-centering joystick doesn't seem to hinder the gameplay in
any noticable way, which with the 5200 is always a plus. For the
adventurous there's a trak-ball option available, but it isn't recommended.
About the only faults one can find with this version is the occasional
slowdown and the weak and irratating sounds.
The bacground 'music' is nothing more than a constant low
pitched rumble which sounds like interference, while the sound of the
Galaxians dive bombing is enough to make your skin crawl. It appears
the programmer decided to rapidly change the pitch of the sound as the
galaxians decend, making it sound like they're going from higher to lower.
This may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but in reality
it just sounds irritating. To make matters worse, when the Galaxians
hang in the air, so does the sound! Long high pitched tones are
not unusal in this version.
The 8-bit and 5200 versions of Galaxian contain a few easter
eggs that are worth mentioning. After wave 10, every now and then
you'll see a small symbol when you destroy a Galaxian. On wave 10
the symbol is a Pac-Man, on wave 12 the symbol is the Atari logo, and
on wave 14, the symbol is the initials JT (for programmer Joe Tung). The
game manual calls these 'special screen graphics'. This version
also has an odd 'feature' that allows you to continue playing the game
even on the Game Over screen. To access this trick simply start
a game and hit the Select button (ending your game). Here you can
clear out wave after wave of Galaxians without fear, as you have infinite
lives. You can also use the GAME OVER text as a make shift shield
if need be. After a few waves of this your ship will turn invisible
and the galaxians will start appearing randomly.
While Galaxian may have been a unique concept back in 1979,
by the time the 5200 version was released in 1982 it had been vastly improved
upon by its sequel Galaga. Atari had planned to release Galaga for
the 5200, but it was ultimately cancelled when the 5200 didn't prove to
be the smash hit Atari had hoped. 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 5200 claim
its place as the 'Home Arcade' system.
to 5200 Software