Company: Atari
Model #:
Joseph Tung (Programmer) and Marilyn Churchill (Graphics)
Year: 1982
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 video game 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 noticeable 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 irritating sounds.


The background '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 descend, 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 unusual 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 the 5200 version may not be as arcade accurate as some other ports, it 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.


Version Cart Text Description
?/??/82 Galaxian Final Version
Kiosk Demo


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