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Video Game / Galaxian

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"All modern games are vain, they're evil, and they're the product of the dark lord that is Satan."
"What about Galaxian, would you play that?"
"Oh no, 1983."
— "1982 Amish", Fist of Fun

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 Galaxian3 (the "3" as in "cubed", not the number three), also known as Galaxian3: 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 Starblade (hence the "3" in the title), the game allowed for 28 players sitting in 2 levels surrounded by a massive 360 degree screen powered by 16 projectors. Smaller versions of the game for 16 players and 6 players were later released for arcades in 1991 and 1992; the latter was followed up by another sequel, Attack of the Zolgear, in 1994. In 1996, a home port of Galaxian3 for the PlayStation was released in Japan and Europe, this time without the Project Dragoon subtitle. This version would see a digital release on the PlayStation Store in 2014 under Bandai Namco Games' Games Archive brand.

Galaxian3 has a notable legacy of its own, with a single-player prototype of the game going on serve as the basis for the aforementioned Starblade, which in turn inspired games like Star Fox and Panzer Dragoon.

In 2011, Bandai Namco would give the Galaxian series more relevance by retroactively linking it together with several previously unrelated titles (such as Dig Dug, Starblade, Ace Combat, and Ridge Racer), forming an overarching United Galaxy Space Force series (or UGSF for short) that happens to share its name with the organization mentioned in (the scant amount of) background material for the original Galaxian.

Tropes used in Galaxian:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The arcade version of Galaxian3 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, which included a new story mode named The Rising of Gourb as a compensation.
  • 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.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: Officially, the title of the sequel has no space between the "Galaxian" and "3", being stylized as "GALAXIAN³" (since, as noted above, the "3" is supposed to stand for "cubed" due to the polygonal models used). Most other mentions of the game, with the notable exception of The Other Wiki, spell it as "Galaxian 3", usually prompting questions from gamers about the title. Not helping matters is the Japanese title using the characters ギャラクシアン3 (Gyarakushian 3) as opposed to ギャラクシアン3乗 (Gyarakushian Sanjounote ).
  • 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.
  • One Bullet at a Time: Only one bullet shot by the player ship can be on screen.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: In Galaxian3: Project Dragoon, if the Cannon Seed is damaged enough to get destroyed, it will start to explode with progressively larger explosions.
  • Rail Shooter: Due to the limitations of the LaserDisc format, players could not control Dragoon's movement in Galaxian3, only where they shot. It's essentially a video game with a prerendered animated background.
  • Shoot 'Em Up: Similar to Space Invaders.
  • Timed Mission: By necessity in the Galaxian3 games due to the limitations of 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.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Cannon Seed is a large laser that can cause an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, and the mission in Galaxian3 is to destroy it before it can destroy Earth.
  • Womb Level: The final stretch of Attack of the Zolgear entails launching an assault on the titular space monster from within.



Video Example(s):


Destroying the Cannon Seed

From Galaxian 3: Project Dragoon (original release 1990)

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Example of:

Main / PostDefeatExplosionChain

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