Namco has been quite active in porting its library of arcade classics to the iPhone, but past titles such as Pole Position Remix and Time Crisis have been largely disappointing. Galaga Remix succeeds thanks to updates that make better use of the iPhone’s graphics horsepower.
Galaga is one of the more well-known titles from the Golden Age of arcade cabinets. You play as a spaceship that slides left and right along the bottom of the screen. You must destroy waves of attacking aliens with your cannon while simultaneously dodging their incoming attacks–the top-down shooter epitomized. Galaga is also notable for its unique “sidecar” powerup, where you can rescue another ship and have it fly alongside you as a wingman.
In Galaga Remix, you get three control possibilities. You can move your ship via the accelerometer, a slider along the bottom of the screen, or left/right buttons displayed on the touch screen. None of them may fully replicate the accuracy of a joystick, but everybody should be able to find a control scheme that works for them.
In our opinion, the original game does not hold up as well on the iPhone as we had hoped, but we were pleasantly surprised by the remixed version. The old game was pretty challenging to begin with, and the less-precise control schemes and smaller screen of the iPhone only make it more so.
The new game makes a few wise departures from the original that make it a better fit for the iPhone. First, it’s substantially easier on its normal settings. Each level is made up of five waves each, with a large boss at the end of each level. Additionally, the new landscape view looks better and helps to keep your fingers out of the play area. Finally, the graphics have received a total overhaul. They’re much higher resolution than the original’s, though the additional effects and animations are still relatively tame. The new enemies have a lot of character and keep with the insectoid appearance of the original. All of this makes the remixed version feel like a much more natural fit for the device than the original.
However, we did find ourselves wishing that the remixed version of the game added some more innovative mechanics. We have seen some great re-imaginings of other titles such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders on other platforms, and we would have loved to see some of the same creativity applied to this take.
In addition to the control choices, Namco has included a good number of options for both games. You can adjust the number of starting lives and bonus lives, as well as choosing your starting level on the original game, and your difficulty setting for the remix. This is a nice touch if you don’t like how the game is tuned out of the gate.
Overall, we felt that this new version of Galaga is satisfactory for the iPhone. Though it does not go out of its way to wow you with flashy graphics or a substantially reinterpret the original, it is a solid port that you can adjust to your liking. If you were not a fan of Galaga in the past this new version is not going to be the game for you, but if you have an attachment to the original, or are curious enough to pony up $5.99 on a new space shooter, you won’t be making a bad decision here.