Galaxian: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview


First released in Japan in 1979, Galaxian is the first title of the legendary Galaxian arcade video game series. Several months later, Galaxian was released in the United States by co-publisher Midway. Galaxian was initially developed and published by Namco for Japanese audiences.

Galaxian quickly became popular because it was one of the most advanced arcade games of its time. Players were introduced to a range of colors, rich sound effects and a more sophisticated gaming platform. One of the first hand-held portable video game consoles ever produced was specifically made for Galaxian.

Koichi Tashiro is credited as the lead programmer, while Shigekazu Ishimura handled the arcade machine hardware designs. Kazunori Sawano helped to bring the concept of Galaxian to life and worked on the main design elements. This was also the first vertical shooter that featured scrolling graphics.

Given the fact that outer space was a very popular theme in the 1970s, Namco decided to capitalize off of the success of previously released arcade hits like Space Invaders. Although the basic elements were the same, Galaxian gained a much larger following. Sequels Galaga, Galaga 3 and Galaga '88 were later released by Namco, due to the success of the original Galaxian.

Galaxian was ported to one of the very first Apple computers made for home use, the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64. Other home versions of Galaxian were distributed for the IBM home PC, Nintendo Famicom, ColecoVision and numerous other consoles. After Namco decided to revive the Galaxian series in the late 1990s, collections and updated versions of Galaxian were debuted on the Sega Dreamcast, the NintendoWii and the PlayStation 2.

Even with the sweeping changes and advancements that have been made in the video game developing world since the late 1970s, very few elements of Galaxian have been changed. This arcade has been included in several other popular titles as a bonus stage or add-on. Space ships, sound effects and aliens from Galaxian have made appearances in more than a dozen noteworthy video game titles since its inception, up until the present. As many as two people can play Galaxian at a time, but one player mode is generally preferred.


Game Play Overview

There aren't exactly any levels in Galaxian. Instead, each new enemy attack is described as a 'wave.' There are 32 levels, also referred to as waves, in this game. Each wave starts with exactly 46 enemy space ships stacked together in six rows, near the very top of the screen. After every last opponent has been destroyed, the next wave will assemble.

Flagships, the most powerful enemies that you will face, almost always attack while being escorted by two lower level enemies. Flagships will drop down individually if there are not any red Galaxians nearby. These enemies are also worth the most points, but you will only face two flagships per wave. Blue Galaxians have the lowest point value, and they always make up the bottom three rows.

The main goal of Galaxian is to get the highest score. If your enemies, the Galaxians, were to continue to attack predictably throughout the game, this would be an easy task. However, as few as one Galaxian may attack you during the first few waves, but be prepared to battle more than a dozen swooping enemies at once. Additionally, players are only able to fire one round at a time.

Your space ship, the Galaxip, is only capable of moving left and right. Combined with your limited weaponry, the very best defense that you can employ is to move around frequently. Galaxians are programmed to sense your current location, which is a fact that can also be used to outsmart your enemies.

Special Features

No boosts, power-ups or similar features exist in Galaxian. A single extra life will be awarded when you reach the 5K mark, although some versions of Galaxian award the extra man at 7K, 10K, 12K or 20K. This is the only bonus that you will receive in the game.


Galaxip – This is the ship that players control, move and use to attack the Galaxian army. At the beginning of the game, it is identified as the Galaxip via a written message.

Flagships – Flagships occasionally lead by themselves, but they initiate the majority of their attacks with a few of their cohorts acting as escorts. Aside from being physically different than other enemy groups, flagships are also worth more points.

Galaxians – Made up of blue, red and purple insects disguised as space ships, the Galaxian army is set out to destroy all that come in its way.

How to Play Galaxian

In addition to basic hand-eye coordination, you will also need to distinguish the different ways that Galaxians attack. Purple, red and blue Galaxians generally come down one at a time, but they can also form a line of charging enemies. However, this is something that you won't really need to think about until you get past level 16.

Flagships will always come down with two red Galaxians as escorts. If you destroy all of the red Galaxians while any flagships remain, they will continue to attack, unassisted. Note that killing the red Galaxians first may help to make the approaching wave less threatening, but it will also reduce your total score. Galaxians that are in mid-attack are always worth more than stationary enemies.

Flagships with two red Galaxian escorts are valued at 800 or 300 points, depending on the order in which you eliminate your opponents. If you opt to the two escorts after before take out the flagship, you will get the full 800 point value. However, flagships that have a single escort, or those that are killed before their escorts are eliminated are only worth 200 or 300 points, respectively. Remember that these are the point values assigned for flagships and escorts that are physically in flight. If they have already settled back into formation, you will acquire fewer points. The escorts themselves are valued at 80 points each, when moving.

With the exception of flagships, all other enemies are worth double the points when shot while attacking. Red Galaxians are normally worth 50 points, but the amount awarded is doubled to 100 points when they are killed during an attack. Blue Galaxians are worth 30 points in formation and 60 in flight. You will receive 40 points for killing a purple Galaxian while stationary, and 80 points when it is in motion.

While players are only able to have a single shot in route at any given time, each Galaxian is able to fire three to four rounds. Additionally, the shots fired by your enemies can be projected either vertically or diagonally. This will become even more of a problem when you are facing 10 to 12 Galaxians moving toward you while in a tight formation.

Just when you are finishing up a round, you may notice that the last two, three or four Galaxians work together as a team during unified attacks. They will shift from one direction to the other during flight, essentially chasing you down until they are successful or are forced to go back to their regular places. During this time, they will also shoot at you much more frequently. It is during this time that you will be the most vulnerable. If you miscalculate a move, or even get too close while shooting, you can easily lose a very valuable life.

Ideally, you will spend the first few levels acclimating yourself with how your enemies move, shoot and retreat. There will be no large-scale attacks by Galaxians at this point, so you should test out your different evasive maneuvers now. The corners of the screen may seem like a sanctuary during the lower levels, but this 'safespot' is actually a trap in disguise.

Levels 1 – 16
There are three basic strategies that you should use to get through the first 16 waves. These basic strategies are referred to as horizontal, vertical or opportunistic attack methods. When you choose to attack the Galaxians using the horizontal shooting strategy, your aim is to eliminate your enemies row by row. The vertical attack method entails shooting each alien in a column, starting with the three blue Galaxians in each row. Next are the purple and red Galaxian, and sometimes the flagship. Essentially, you want to shoot in a straight line, starting with the enemy closest to you.

Because they are the most numerous and positioned closest to the Galaxip, blue Galaxians will drop down on you very often. These will also be the aliens with the most identifiable flight patterns, so evading them shouldn't be much of a challenge; at least during the first few stages. Red colored aliens work hand in hand with flagships to launch more aggressive attacks. However, these aliens are also closer to the top of their formation, so surprise attacks will be rare.

The purple Galaxians seem to be much more aware of player positioning than some of the other enemy groups. Their attacks are less predictable, and their movements are much more jerky. Attacks by purple Galaxians usually precede blue Galaxian and red escort attacks.

As the name suggests, the opportunity based attack method is based on killing whichever opponent that happens to be the biggest threat, or the most obvious. Using an opportunistic attack approach also ensures that you will get a highest score than if you were to be more selective. Since you would be taking out a combination of foes, both stationary and flying, you would also get a better feel for enemy attack flight patterns.

Every new wave starts off with the Galaxip stationed on the bottom of the screen, directly in the middle. You will be lined up middle perfectly, so that the two flagships will be on immediate left and right. Depending on your chosen strategy, you can either choose to start shooting immediately, or you can start at a far end of the screen.

If you are able to survive the first 16 attack waves, you will be one step closer to beating Galaxian. Besides choosing a defensive and offensive strategy and conserving your extra lives, there is not much that you can do besides practice and hope for the best.

Beyond Level 17
From level 17 to 32, the pace and attack patterns of your enemies will become even more varied. You will never know when the last group formation attack will come because as many as the last 15 remaining aliens may suddenly attack you at once.

This will force you to use even more complex attack and defense strategies. If you have previously been using the horizontal strategy, this is a good time to try something new. More than 10 or 11 enemies attacking at once may seem overwhelming, but these groups are much more manageable when stacked on top of one another. Comparatively, a long line of bugs, positioned shoulder to shoulder, can easily attack and put you in a compromising situation.

In order to maximize your score, using a wait and approach attack method can be very helpful at this point. Until you get to the very last group attack at the end of a wave, you can count on being bombarded by unrelenting attacks by aliens individually. Otherwise, if you are more focused on finishing Galaxian, it may be best to sacrifice a high score and adopt a more aggressive game plan.

Every Galaxian moves, approaches and shoots based on your location and movements. You can learn to anticipate these movements and fire shots accordingly, so that the trajectory of each bullet naturally intercepts with their predetermined paths. Alternatively, you may need to start waiting for your enemies to get to a certain spot on each board and then shoot as they start to return to their positions.

You do not have to stick with any one particular strategy, but try not to switch up gears to much while actively engaging a wave of attacks. Note that the highest stage, or wave, that you can complete in Galaxian is level 32.

Hints and Tips
- Although you will have the ability to shoot engage at both close and long rage, be sure to stay clear of explosions and scattering debris. You can also lose a life if you stay too close to an exploding target.

- Enemies can change their directions, seemingly at will. However, the course of each enemy group's path is controlled by a predetermined algorithm. The more that you play Galaxian, the easier it will be for you to figure out where your opponents will move next.

- As you move around the board, you will become a more difficult target for the Galaxian army. However, it is vital that you do not always run for the corners. When facing a single enemy, this is a good strategy, but it will not work with a large group of enemies.


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