Galaxian is a fixed shooter arcade game that bears a lot of similarities to the Space Invaders series. You've got one ship to use against an encroaching army of space bugs that move back and forth at the top of the screen in perfect formation. Occasionally, one or two of them will swarm out of formation to attack you. Shooting the flagship enemies (the ones at the very top) garnered bonus points, depending on how many escorts it carries and in what order you shoot them. (Saving the flagship for last is always worth a big bonus).
Galaxian was one of Namco's earliest successes, and it introduced concepts such as multi-colored sprites and explosions (as opposed to the black-and-white in games that came before it) and running background "music". Sure, they may sound mundane to us gamers now, but back in 1979 when this first came out, these were a big deal.
The game spawned several spinoffs and sequels, the most famous being Galaga, which greatly exceeded its predecessor in popularity. Both games are staples on Namco Museum home collections, and have been ported to almost every system imaginable.
A sequel named Galaxian 3 (also known as Galaxian 3: Project Dragoon) was released as an attraction that ran in Namco's Wonder Eggs theme park in Tokyo from 1990 to 2000. Now a 3D polygonal Rail Shooter similar to Star Blade, the game allowed for 28 players sitting in 2 levels surrounded by a massive 360 degree screen powered by 16 projectors. A smaller version for 6 players was later released for arcades in 1994, this was followed up by another sequel Attack of the Zolgear.
Tropes used in Galaxian:
- Adaptation Distillation: The arcade version of Galaxian 3 reduces the screen to a pair of screens rather than the 360-degree juggernaut used in the theme park version. It also reduces the number of players from 28 to 6. Even then, the cabinet is still huge by arcade cabinet standards, to the point of being billed as "THE WORLD'S LARGEST VIDEO GAME!" at the time. A four-player, single-screen port for PS1 exists as well.
- Bug War: The aliens vaguely look like bugs, and the cabinet art seems to reflect the idea. The sequel Galaga makes this a bit more pronounced.
- The Cameo: That flagship is everywhere.
- Game Mod: Nichibutsu's Moon Alien, which adds an energy meter that causes your ship to explode if you run out.
- Moving Target Bonus: Hitting an enemy while it's attacking scores more points than hitting it while it was in formation. The Galaxian flagship can score up to 800 points with two escorts during its bombing run and you hit the escorts first.
- Shoot 'em Up: Similar to Space Invaders.
- Timed Mission: By necessity in the Galaxian 3 games due to the laserdisc format: the final segments of those games task the players with destroying a target within a given time limit. Failure to do so results in an instant Game Over.
- Womb Level: The final stretch of Attack of the Zolgear entails launching an insult on the titular space monster from within.