Namco Networks has been making a strong push as of late to bring some of their old-school IPs to the relatively new iPhone and iPod Touch. One of their first is Galaga Remix, which combines the coin-op original Galaga along with a “remixed” version that sports updated graphics, sounds, gameplay and fun.
After launching the game, your first choice is between the original coin-op version or the more updated Remix version. While each has its own unique characteristics, I suggest those that haven’t played anything but the original should probably give that a whirl first in order to get their head back into the game. It is actually a tougher play than the remix, but will prep you for anything either game can throw at you.
The Classic version is played with a vertical orientation, so everything on the screen is smaller in order to preserve the original aspects of the game. While the Remix is horizontal and is clearly easier to play, as you have more room to work back and forth and everything is bigger, making it easier to see and hit. Both versions give you the option to change how many starting lives (2-5), when you get an extended life, which control type (arrow keys, slider or accelerometer) and the sound effects. The remix version also adds options for difficulty and BGM.
After changing the settings and starting the game, the first thing you will notice in both versions is that the controls will take some getting used to. One of the hardest aspects of any games that use touch screen controls is losing the feel of the physical button under your fingers. With Galaga, this seemed to cause more issues than say Pac-man did. The classic version especially was tough (as is the remix to a degree) as the default rocker button actually responds only in a small area, so it is easy to lose control of your ship while trying to go side-to-side and end up getting hit by a bomb. After tying out in both versions the slider and accelerometer, I determined that the slider is probably the best way for the remix, but the buttons offer the best control for the classic. Regardless, a title update from Namco to make the area more responsive for all control types would improve the accuracy of the buttons make this game an even more must-have purchase.
The classic version of the game plays just like the original coin-op, right down to the stutter in the firing button that only allows off so many shots. The movement is a bit of a challenge as mentioned above, but the sounds are dead on and wave after wave of invaders takes you straight back to a 1980’s dingy arcade. The remix offers a bit of a different perspective, as it remains true to the core gameplay, but with updated graphics, an easier play (in this writer’s opinion) and the introduction of Boss challenges. One major difference between the two is how the uniting of fighters is handled. While the original gets you the side-by-side double-shot, the remix allows you to stack your captured fighters (up to three) from three separate enemies. As a result, there are nine different weapon types that can be compiled by letting your fighters get captured by the three different tractor beams. Once you get a couple of these power ups loaded, your fighter can be a devastating bearer of death to the enemies, making the game extremely fun and high scores fall like dominoes.
After playing through both versions, I enjoyed the gameplay of the Remix because I could get deeper into the levels and was experiencing something that was relatively new. However, the classic version brought back all that nostalgia that Namco and Midway unleashed in 1981. Regardless of what version I played, I was still able to get my high-score rankings fix. In fact, the remix offers up a top-five for all three difficulty rankings. While this was one more bit of motivation while playing, eventually I would like to see Apple create some sort of centralized way for scores to be available similar to Xbox Live or PSN with your friends. Probably wishful thinking on my part, but it would add to the games.
Galaga Remix is a great adaptation of the original and the remix versions of the game for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Any person that is a fan of the franchise should pick this up right away despite the learning curve with the control scheme. The more I use the iPod touch for gaming, the more I become used to it even with the varying control options. I will say that Namco Networks has done a good job with Galaga Remix by offering three different options out of the box so that one should be best for each individual. If you are unsure of whether Galaga Remix is for you, then try downloading what amounts to a demo of the game in Galaga REMIX Light, which is available on the App Store.
Originally released on 3/13/2009, the game is now on version 1.0.1 (which is the reviewed version) and checks in at 39.8 MB in size. Galaga Remix can be found on iTunes AppStore at a current price of $5.99. Final GamingNexus grade is B+.