Developer: Namco
Price: 5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

While it might be a space-themed shooter, it’s clear that the expansion of the Galaga franchise has yet to meet its final frontier. As a kid, I remember spending hours standing on tip-toe in front of the arcade machine in a local restaurant; after my family stopped dining there, I eventually picked up Galaga remakes for a few different platforms. None of them ever came close to the perfection of the arcade classic, but they were good games nevertheless. And the march of remakes and ports continues.

img_000412When I saw that Galaga had finally been ported to the iPhone, I was tentatively hopeful. Had the classic gameplay been preserved? With “REMIX” featured in the title, I had my doubts.

Thankfully, Galaga REMIX from Namco (don’t ask me why the caps are there) contains both the old, “classic” version as well as a new, slightly updated take on the shooter. The remixed version adds little innovation, but it’s optimized for the iPhone. It’s a great version of Galaga, sure, but you won’t find too much new material to justify that $5.99 price tag.

My main concern with the iPhone version was the controls, but those are handled fairly well. You have three options: accelerometer, slider, or button controls. I personally prefer the accelerometer-based controls, but all of them work fine. You can switch your control scheme from the pause menu, too, which is a nice option. Oddly, I felt as if the controls were slightly clunkier in the classic version than in the remixed version.

img_0021The classic version plays as you’d expect. You can’t fire continuously (darn it!), but everything else remains faithful to the original, from the enemies’ tactics to the art to the sound effects. If you feel like cheating, you can raise the number of initial fighters, too.

The remixed version is where the folks at Namco pledged to spruce things up, and for the most part it plays well. The most noticeable difference was the art, which uses a more 3D-ish style than the pixelated sprites of the original while keeping a vaguely insectoid look. (I’m not a fan, but it’s okay.) Also, the dual-fighter system has been reworked. Before, allowing your fighter to be capture and then releasing it earned you two ships; now, it simply gives you a power-up based on what type of enemy captured your ship. As an added bonus, you can allow your super-charged fighter to be recaptured—adding another power-up on top of your current one. The other major change is a structural ones; levels are divided into groups of five, with a boss battle finishing the sequence.

img_00251On the whole, the remixed version plays well, and feels like it’s optimized for the iPhone. Playing in landscape mode rather than portrait feels much more natural, and I appreciated the divisions created by the level system. The bosses didn’t feel like anything special, but I did think that the enemies felt more intelligent (and more fun to dodge). Oh, and the difficulty is significantly lower.

I do have a few problems with the interface. First, you have to select Classic or Remix mode before you see any other menus, which feels like a waste of space, and the animations take so long. The controls in Classic mode feel somewhat awkward, too. But those are my only real complaints about the game—that, and the price. (I’m going to ignore the heinous use of CAPS again. For shame, Namco!)

Is Galaga REMIX a good buy? If you’re nostalgic for the old classic, go for it. It’s a good remake, but I didn’t see anything particularly special that you won’t find in any other edition. In the end, it’s the price that many folks will find prohibitive, and you’ll have to make the decision for yourself!

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