Galaga agalagain? So soon? Well no, not really - six whole years have gone by since Galaga which means that there has been plenty of time to tinker and perfect the gameplay for Galaga '88.
We're back in space, shooting spaceships but Galaga was alright, so here's hoping the same holds true for Galaga '88. It's on the list, so it must be.
Is that considered a spoiler alert?
After a couple of control woes I was able to play the TurboGrafx-16 port of Galaga '88 online via the wonders of Adobe Flash (yes, I'm surprised Chrome bothered to run it too), and I think it's fair to say that it's the same old story as Galaga, so far as my skill with it goes at least.
It continues to be simple in that you can only move your ship left and right and have one fire mode to worry about. Squadrons of enemy ships fly in formation into place at the top of the screen before swooping and diving towards you, trying to pick you off one by one.
It's preferable for you to thin their numbers down before they do so, and shooting from the moment you've got control will work wonders for you. The more accurate your shots, the greater your score.
Changed from the Galaga titles of yersteryear are colourful backgrounds to complement the firework displays that take place each time you blow up an enemy ship. The star field transitions from one stage to the next are another example of a little bit of visual polish that brings quality to the screen. Not depth, but quality nonetheless. Can't have it all.
The whole thing seems friendly and welcoming, despite being as tricky as ever - I got to stage 4 a couple of times, I believe, but continued to make the same mistake of immediately moving right, into rather than away from an enemy projectile. That's on me, not on Galaga '88.
Also making an appearance is the ability to start the game with two linked ships and only one spare ship, rather than one ship and two spares. Do you go for an immediate boost of firepower at the expense of revealing a bigger target for the enemy to hit, and reducing the amount of back up options you have when you make a mistake? It's a nice option to have available, even if only to try it out from time to time.
Stages are broken up in a couple of ways, including multiple dimensions. Collect two blue Warp canisters and you can hop into another, faster, more difficult dimension for more points, and more of a challenge.
Warp canisters aren't chucked out like confetti though - you'll have to work to get them, and in such a way that means the method you use to collect the first canister can't be used to get a second. As you might imagine I didn't ever get two Warp canisters. I got one here and there but that's just not good enough.
According to the Game Over stats I was pretty poor. In my defence, I was playing for fun and did get better. Slightly. I'll move to the left at the start of stage 4 next time. Anyway, there's a lot of content here by the looks of it, but you've only got three lives to get through it all, so I can see - I don't recall a way to get new lives. I'm sure there is, but I just couldn't tell you for certain.
Compared to the other shoot 'em ups of the mid to late 1980s, Galaga '88 is 'old school' and it just doesn't care who knows it. It's bright, it's inviting, and the intermissions involve enemy ships performing dance routines. Which you can shoot for bonus points, but that's not very sporting of you, is it? Just sit back and watch it.
Left, right, shoot. There's some skill and strategy for an easier or more successful time, of course there is, but there's really nothing too taxing to do here. There is nothing wrong or broken with it that leaps to mind and it's a breeze to play. I mean that in the sense of easy to pick up but whatever skill you have, you can have a good time with Galaga '88.
I think I said the same for Galaga but as this game has another six years of polish added to it, going for Galaga '88 other the original is a no brainer, personally.
Not moving during the dancing will score you as many bonus points as managing to shoot down all forty ships before they disappear. I know which one of those I'd be more successful at...
Galaga '88, developed by Namco, first released in 1987.
Version played: TurboGrafx-16, 1989, via emulation.