Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4
Publisher: Solar Software
Developer: John P. Shay
Submitted by: Barry Lendrum
I remember way back in 1985 when I first bought this game. I remember being in a department store in West Ealing, London and there I found a bundle of C16 titles on display. I can't remember the selection they had, but I remember picking this one out.
I also remember playing this for hours into the late evening when I took it home. Well, my first choice of games then were the arcade classics I used to enjoy on my holidays. A clone of Galaxian by Namco were one of them.
This really doesn't take much explaining unless you've lived under a cliché rock for over 30 years. Most games of this ilk has you starting at 3 lives, but here you're thankfully given 4 (you'll need them). Enemy aliens will swarm onto the screen in separate groups in different patterns in turn. Your mission is to blast them away with your little spacecraft below. You can move left and right only, and pressing fire will unleash your laser bullets. On the first level the enemy doesn't fire back, but from level 2 onwards they will with increasing difficulty as you progress further. Once you've cleared the screen of enemies then it's onto the next level. When you lose all 4 lives then it's game over. There are no extra lives gained. The only objective is to achieve the highest score possible, there is no final level. That's it!
If you enjoy old fashioned single screen Shmups, then this might be your thing. The graphics aren't bad, the aliens are pretty well detailed and colourful although I feel that they're a little too much on the large size and that there isn't as many enemies as in the original arcade classic which may disappoint fans of the original, I admit it disappointed me a little when I first played this. However the ship itself is fine and moves adequately although it does flicker a bit but not to distraction, plus the whole animation and swarming movements of the aliens is very good. I particularly like the star-field effect which scrolls downwards while you play.
The sound is also pretty good for what you would expect for this game. No intro music or anything but decent fire sounds from your craft and nice woooo effects when the aliens are swarming down on you.
I wouldn't call this a particularly easy game. Sure the first level is so simple that you could probably beat it with your eyes closed without losing a life, but it starts getting gradually tougher after this that by level 8 you will have done pretty well not to lose all your 4 lives.
There are some tactics to playing this game particularly whilst the aliens are first grouping together, but when they're all there and start swarming down on you, if you haven't disposed of most of them by then, then tactics just go straight out of the window as they start hailing their bullets down on you firing at the same time so much so that it can be pretty hard to dodge anything. Try and dispose of most of them before they're ready to swarm.
Overall, after you get over the initial disappointment of it not looking anything much like the original arcade version, it's quite a good game and it is fun to come back for hi-scores. My only gripe is that the playing area really doesn't give that much room for much tactical play when they start seriously attacking. Apart from this, it's one of the better classic titles by Solar Software, and I do believe that it's the only Galaxian clone on our system. It's good, not great but not half bad either.
You can watch a shortplay video of it HERE!