Galaxian by Namco, originally released THIRTY YEARS AGO in 1979. That's right.
So, there are some games which have perhaps not aged too well, and are rather difficult even for an old-timer like me to still sit down and find "the bottomless quarter-pit" with. Galaxian falls in this category, as it is simply an old-as-time-itself arcade game. Not to say that it is bad, but it was certainly the stopgap between some very necessary iterations of its genre.
Galaxian is the best-known followup and evolution to competing developer Taito's "Birth of a Nation" advancing aliens shooter, the famous Space Invaders (1978). That game was followed by several tweaks and modifications of its own, but Galaxian was the first game to really advance the whole formula forward. Downward-swooping alien attackers, multicolor characters, background music (grating and wretched as it was!), these were all firsts with Galaxian.
And so, moving from the ultra-primitive Space Invaders to this must have been quite an experience (I wouldn't know, I was 4 years old when this was released.. I had another couple of years to even get exposed to this stuff!!)
Of course, 2 years later Namco followed this notable effort up with the penultimate twist on the whole formula, the much-loved Galaga. The release of that game was very much a watershed moment, as the game went from being a simple "shoot-and-dodge-fest" to a much more careful game of strategy, timing, and dexterity. Anyone familiar with both titles can easily see the correlation between the two.
For me - a Galaga buff, and one who didn't even give that game a chance until much later - Galaxian is a game I very much want to like, but pulling it out after all these years - it is tough to love! I can still sit down and enjoy a few games of the original Space Invaders, it has got that "certain something" which still will entice me. Galaga is so well-balanced and figured out, that I don't think I need to start explaining why that game is still very relevant and playable. But Galaxian - it is forever relegated to being an in-between game. Not a bad game, just one which belongs firmly planted in the time period from whence it came. A good game, and absolutely a notable landmark that is representative of its place in history. And yeh, the title still sounds cool, you gotta give it that!
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(iTunes Link Here)