Galaga (pronounced ga-LAG-a, per Word of God) is a fixed shooter arcade game and the sequel to Galaxian. It was released by Namco in 1981; the US version was released the same year under license to Midway (and later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System to Bandai (now merged with Namco to form Bandai Namco Entertainment) and the Game Boy game systems (under license to Nintendo) along with Galaxian).
The objective of Galaga is to score as many points as possible by destroying insect-like enemies. The player controls a fighter spaceship that can move left and right along the bottom of the playfield. Enemies fly in groups into a formation near the top of the screen, then begin flying down toward the player, firing bombs at and attempting to collide with the fighter. Occasionally, a "boss Galaga" attempts to capture the player's fighter using a tractor beam. If successful, the fighter joins the formation and must be freed by the player (using another ship and costing him/her a life), enabling him/her to control two ships simultaneously and doubling the players' firepower. Galaga '88 even allowed the player to do the same with a third ship. The game is over when the player's last ship is destroyed or captured.
Galaga introduces a number of new features over its predecessor, Galaxian. Among these are a realistic explosion sound that occurs when the player loses a life, a count of the player's "hit/miss ratio" at the end of the game, and a bonus "Challenging Stage" that occurs every four levels, in which a series of enemies fly onto and out of the screen in set patterns without firing at the player.
Galaga is one of the few classic arcade games to still be profitable. It was released in a combination arcade game with Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man in 2001.
The series has also been given a downloadable title in the same vein as Pac-Man Championship Edition: Galaga Legions on Xbox Live Arcade in 2008, with a Deluxe version released as part of the Namco Generations line on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in 2011.
2016 saw the series returns to the arcades in the form of Galaga Assault which HD the graphics and can now be played for tickets.
Galaga has examples of:
- Another Dimension: In Galaga'88 some enemies give bombs. Collect two of them to open a rift to warp to another dimension after each Challenging Stage, where enemies are harder to fight.
- Antagonist Title: The alien race is known as the Galaga.
- Asteroid Thicket: Scrolling stages in Galaga'88 have asteroids, either fixed or moving around.
- Attract Mode: Like every arcade cabinet.
- Bonus Stage: The Challenging Stages (marked in Galaga'88 by an "That's Galactic Dancin' announcement), that show up every few stages. You can't die in them, and they just serve as a way of getting extra points, with a bonus awarded if you kill every target or a hidden bonus if you do nothing, in Galaga'88. Getting a dual ship beforehand makes them significantly easier to beat.
- Bug War: Several of the enemies bear resemblance to insects.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Gaplus calls most stages, "Parsec"s. The Challenging Stages are still called Challenging Stages though.
- Cast from Hit Points: In order to have dual ships blowing up enemies, you have to let one of them get captured, and you lose a life doing so.
- Chain Reaction Destruction: The final boss in Galaga '88 is chain-explosive.
- Difficult, but Awesome: Dual ships (and triple ships in '88 only) have wider shots that are easier to land on targets, averting One Bullet at a Time, but it also effectively doubles your hitbox making it harder to dodge.
- Difficulty by Acceleration: Enemies get faster and their bullets get harder to dodge as you get further into the game. Others will also try to kamikaze you.
- End Game Results Screen: At the end of the game, the screen displays the number of shots you fired, the number of shots that hit targets, and your hit-miss ratio.
- Endless Game: Until Galaga '88, there was no ending.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Used in Galaga '88 to move between stages. You can also move to other dimensions after the Challenging Stage by collecting two blue crystals.
- Flawless Victory: Destroy all 40 enemies during a Challenging Stage and the game will play a celebratory jingle, followed by giving you a 10,000-point bonus.
- Fusion Dance: Galaga '88 at the very least has enemies that can fuse to form other much tougher.
- Happily Ever After: The Golden Ending to 88.
- Hostage Spirit Link: Subverted. If you hit a captured fighter, nothing happens other than a point bonus, because you already got punished by losing one life.
- Kill Screen: After stage 255, except on the highest difficulty level.
- Mook Chivalry: If you free a captured ship, the enemies will let up for a few seconds to allow your ships to combine. That's about the only break you'll be getting in this game.
- More Dakka: Gaplus lets the player capture up to six enemy ships and have up to 60 shots on screen at a time.
- Moving Target Bonus: Hitting an enemy while it was attacking scores more points than hitting it while it was in formation. Also, hitting a boss Galaga while one or two red Galagas are attacking with it scores even more points.
- Multiple Endings: "'Galaga'88'' has different endings depending of which dimension you took to beat it From an image of your fighter returning to base with text mentioning how the aliens stroke back seven years later to a female fighter pilot thanking you for saving her and inviting you to be together as a man and a woman.
- Nintendo Hard: On the lower end of the scale compared to other arcade games, but this is still a tough game to get through. Even the Dual Ship will only help you so much by the time you get to later levels, where the enemies don't let up and get much harder to dodge.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Fans were split for years on whether the title is pronounced "ga-LAG-a" or "GAL-a-ga". A Midway staffer confirmed that it's pronounced the former way, stressing the second syllable. Because it is the sequel to Galaxian, which is pronounced similarly. Namco themselves seem to be on the fence about this, as the computer voice from Legions pronounces it the latter way.
- Nonstandard Game Over: Getting your last ship captured instead of destroyed.
- One-Hit Point Wonder: Your default ship. Getting a Dual Ship adds an extra hit point, though.
- Shoot 'em Up: Everything that moves.
- Spelling Bonus: The Challenging Stages in Gaplus have the player juggling enemies and gradually spelling out words that describe what happens if spelled out. For example, "DOUBLE" will double the amount of points received from the Challenging Stage. "BYE BYE" is probably best left not spelled.
- Tractor Beam: With a side of Everything's Better with Spinning. You can shoot while you're spinning, possibly hitting an enemy (including the boss capturing you; destroying it releases your ship).
- Turns Red: The boss Galagas take two hits to destroy, turning darker colors after the first.
- Unexpected Genre Change: Downplayed in 88; at times it goes from a fixed shooter into a scrolling shooter and adds music.
- Un-Installment: Gaplus, the sequel to Galaga, had conversion kits that changed the title to Galaga 3 in North America. There was no Galaga 2, unless Galaxian was counted as an entry.
- Updated Re-release: The game has been given two Arrangement versions with updated graphics, music, and slightly altered gameplay: one in Arcades in 1996, and another on PSP in 2006.
- Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: If done in the Challenging Stages in 88, the player gets a bonus equal to what the Flawless Victory bonus would have been.
- Yet Another Stupid Death: Before you get your ship captured so you can get the double ship (or triple in '88), check your life counter. If you have no lives left, you WON'T be getting your upgraded ship.