In this video from four years ago, top-level Galaga player Jordan Dorrington gives us advice for how to get far into the venerable arcade classic.
Some of the tips given:
On the first level, enemies never shoot as they enter. Shoot as many of the bugs as you can as they enter the screen.
Boss Galagas never try to capture your ship if there’s only one remaining.
On the first two Challenging Stages, if a double ship is positioned exactly in the center of the screen, you can stay there to shoot the bugs fairly easily and get an easy Perfect.
Starting from Stage 4, some extra will be among the ones that will swoop around entering formation, and will leave the attacking ranks to rush you.
After the first three stages, the game settles into a pattern of four stages. The first three stages of each set have distinct patterns, followed by a Challenging Stage.
The first stage in each set of four has the bugs entering in two mirrored processions from the sides of the screen. The second stage has them entering from one side in double rows. On the third stage they enter from the side in one long string.
Galaga kill screens are difficulty dependent. There’s a game-ending screen on difficulty levels (or “ranks”) A and C. The other difficulty levels loop and continue indefinitely
Basic strategy for cleaning up the remaining bugs is to start at one edge of the screen, and as they fly down at your ship, to move towards the other side a tiny bit at a time, to avoid the shots coming at you, and shooting to eliminate as many of the bugs as you can in the process.
If you survive a long time on a single wave, there’s a well-documented bug in the code that causes the enemies to shoot less and less, and eventually cease firing completely. In casual play that’s great, but Twin Galaxies rules are that you cannot take advantage of this bug intentionally.
If you get really good at Galaga, it’s best to play as Player 2, as the first player’s score rolls over after six digits, but the second player’s score records seven digits.
The game’s difficulty stops increasing at Stage 31.
If you’re playing on a difficulty without a kill screen, after Stage 255 you’ll progress to Stage 0. It throws many players off in that the bugs travel at the slowest speed, but their shots are extremely rapid.
The hardest part of the game is recovering from losing a double ship. The game is much harder in single ship play.
Wurm: Journey to the Center of the Earth is a Famicom/NES title with a lot of ambition, perhaps too much. Over on his self-named blog Kid Fenris posted a long article on it back in March. It makes it seem a lot more interesting than it otherwise would! We at Set Side B love experiments, successful or failed, and Wurm certainly was one, with shooter, side-scrolling platformer, first-person boss fights and even some visual novel elements. And protagonist lady named “Moby” is searching for her boyfriend named “Ziggy.”
The post mentions that designer Shouichi Yoshikawa, a.k.a. “Angela,” has an interview up at GDRI. It also mentions that Angela used to have a site devoted to their game, which while gone now has a backup on the Wayback Machine! Sadly the promised English version of the site never materialized.
Also–Kid Fenris mentions he once wrote about Wurm on GameSetWatch. My old stomping grounds!
Owner of Game Wisdom with more than a decade of experience writing and talking about game design and the industry. I’m also the author of the “Game Design Deep Dive” series and “20 Essential Games to Study”
One of the coolest graphic effects from the original Metroid Prime was dynamic lighting from some of your weapons. Not only did it look amazing to see your shots light up surfaces as they zoomed down corridors and across rooms, but they even made the game a little easier in dark places. I remember at least once using shots to help me get a read on surfaces in a pitch black area.
It was such a distinctive feature that some people were a bit upset that it wasn’t included in the recent remastered version for the Switch, especially since it was included in the remake of Metroid Prime, in the Metroid Prime Collection released for the Wii. What happened?
Youtube channel KIWI TALKZ spoke with Jack Mathews, one of the programmers of the original version, in a Youtube video, where they revealed that the beam lighting effect was designed around a specific feature of the Gamecube hardware, that made it nearly free. They theorize that it could have been included in the Switch’s version, but it would have been much more costly there, especially at its 60 fps target. The Switch was designed, either cleverly or infamously depending on your point of view, around a mobile graphics chip, that was never intended to wow with effects, even those available to 22-year-old hardware.
It is interesting though, to think there are things the Gamecube’s now-ancient 3D chips can do easily that the Switch has trouble with. Mind you, the Switch does target a much higher resolution than the Gamecube, not 1080p but still 900, which is a lot more than the Gamecube which was aimed at standard def televisions. But on the other armored hand, it has been over two decades. Ah well.
Helper Wesley on Youtube is making a Binding Of Isaac-style randomized twin stick shooter called Spent Shells, and published it on Newgrounds. It’s on itch.io too. It got about 35,000 plays and an award from the site, which is nice. It also got ripped off and put on a bunch of other sites, which wasn’t. But things seem to be going well with it.
Wesley put up a video with his experiences with its popularity and his attempts to monetize it. It’s only ten minutes, and it’s got a lot of useful information for things to do that might help out your own project, if that’s the kind of thing you do, or just an interesting look at an experience most of us won’t even have.
Ordinarily this would be the kind of thing that intrepid blob reporter Kent Drebnar would cover here some week, but this is too big to hide as just one of several links in an omnibus post. At long last, one of the biggest N64 games of all is getting a rerelease on Switch Online (oh, and Xbox One as well), even if you have to get the Expansion Pack to play it. It should be playable when, or soon after, this post goes up! It even offers widescreen support and online play!
While it couldn’t save the system in the face of competition from the Playstation, there is no denying Rare’s Goldeneye 007 moved an awful lot of Nintendo 64 consoles, and until now, 25 years later, unless you wanted to pirate it, the original cart and system was still the only way to play it. It remains the most iconic James Bond video game ever made, and it may still be the most popular. They got so much right when making it, both with respect to the franchise and to doing a console-based first-person shooter right.
WARNING: the following paragraph will make little sense to people who weren’t both N64 players and internet readers at the time when it was new:
The spirits of countless N64 IGN readers rejoice this day. a golden eye is an eye tat is golden! Sadly, all record of eye tat boy is gone from their current website, Google is of no use at all in ferreting record of it out of the present-day web, and it’s too much trouble to dredge its memory up from the Wayback Machine. So it goes.
The gaming landscape has changed so much since then. When shrinkwrapped Goldeneye 007 boxes first saw store shelves, Rare was on their way to becoming one of Nintendo’s most beloved second parties. People largely came to see them as like a British branch of the company, then the Stamper brothers wanted to sell, Nintendo somehow said no to buying, and as a result the company began largely to languish, until around the time Viva Pinata came out. Since then, the people who made it left Rare and went on to make the Timesplitters games, which are still fondly remembered.
Such is N64 Goldeneye’s legend that Activision once actually released another James Bond game by that name, that actually wasn’t a port or remake of the original but was more of a reboot of it, with the Daniel Craig version of James Bond included.
Goldeneye 007’s twin release on both the Switch and Xbox platforms must have required some deep licensing mojo, but perhaps not even as much needed to wrest the rights for a rerelease of a James Bond movie tie-in game from the Broccoli family, as well as the likeness rights from Pierce Brosnan. With that many owners looking for their pieces of the financial pie, the stars must have aligned mighty right for the game to see the legal light of day again. Someone, please go check R’lyeh! Cthulhu must be about to awaken!
Xevious was modestly successful in the US, where it was produced by Atari, but it Japan it did amazing numbers. Jeremy Parish (in his NES Works and related series) has mentioned several times that it was a vastly influential game in Japan, inspiring a whole generation of designers, and a whole bunch of clones and similar games. Its US release was around the time of the arcade crash, which was mostly an American thing. If it hadn’t had happened, maybe now we’d think about Xevious the way we consider Pac-Man.
Xevious basically invented the vertical scrolling shooter where your ship has free movement of the screen. It also included a Bomb button to attack objects on the ground, displayed on the game’s background layer. It was a concept that would later be iterated upon in Konami’s Twinbee games.
Revealed in the article is an interesting fact. The scrolling background is stored in ROM as a huge 1024×2048 bitmapped image. That’s much wider than the screen is though. What the game does is send the player into a vertical portion of it 224 pixels wide.
When the player reaches the top, they wrap around to the bottom of another vertical stripe of the game world. In a complete loop, the player will travel from the bottom to the top 16 times. You can tell when you’re about to start another loop because the background will reach a place with trees all the way across!
You always start off a life in a tree-filled area because it begins you at the bottom of a stripe; each vertical pass over the map functions as a checkpoint. The stripes overlap somewhat, so you sometimes pass over an area you’ve seen before but offset by a bit.
For more facts on Xevious and its development, be sure to click through to the article!
On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.
Most of the things we post here are game hacks. That is, something that has been modified from a published game. Hacking games is not illegal, but the process that some people usually use to obtain the roms themselves may be somewhat questionable. Well not for the subject of this week’s article: it’s 100% homebrew, created from scratch and unencumbered by such considerations! It runs on NES hardware (or an NES emulator), but technically speaking what we have here is more of an indie game on classic console hardware more than a hack.
It’s also an unusual subject for a 2022 indie game. You’ll find all kinds of hacks to, say, put silly characters into Super Mario Bros., but a remake of an Intellivision game, and one with an Atari port that is very much its equal, and porting those games to the NES-that’s unusual enough to merit discussion, even if the game itself is very simple.
Astrosmash! (with the exclamation point) was a very popular game for the Intellivision. I heard it was originally intended to be an Asteroids-style game, with rocks that split into pieces when shot, but turned out to be interesting translated to a Space Invaders-style missile base game, where your ship is stuck to the bottom of the screen shooting at targets falling from above. Astroblast! was released by M-Network (Mattel’s label for publishing games for competing systems), and was a very similar game for the Atari VCS/2600, but actually improved on the original in two ways: it can be played with either the joystick or paddle controller. It’s the only game for the VCS like that! Both control schemes are fun, although experts can probably play much better with the paddle, due to both its faster and more precise movement. And, it’s extremely fast! The sheer pace of the VCS Astroblast is so much greater than the Intellivision Astrosmash that it kind of demonstrates why VCS games tend to be more engaging than Intellivision games: it wastes no time with an easy ramp up in difficulty, but starts faster than almost any other game, and only gets harder from there. It’s simply exhilarating!
The way it works is like this. Rocks, Pulsars and Spinners fall from the sky, and your ship tries to shoot them before they hit the ground. You get points for shooting things, but lose points for things that get past you. Rocks come in two sizes (smaller ones have higher point values), but only kill you if they hit you. Big rocks break apart into small rocks when stuck. Pulsars home in on you as they fall, which makes it more likely they’ll hit you, but also means they’re easier to shoot. The most dangerous items plummeting towards you though, by far, are the Spinners. You must shoot Spinners, you don’t just lose points if one lands but a life. Small Spinners are your greatest enemy, since they’re also hard to hit. There’s also UFOs that harass you, which pass by horizontally and drop bombs on you.
Here is a short game of Astroblast, to give you a sense of how it works. Notice how fast it is. Know that this is nowhere near as fast as it gets. It is my kind of game:
As you score gets higher, the background color changes, and the game gets faster. You get extra lives every 1,000 points, and you start with ten, far more generous than most arcade-style skill tests from that time, but you need all those lives because you’re constantly dying. Difficulty is determined by score, the more points you have the faster it gets. Because you lose points as well as gain them, and because the speed is balanced right at the edge of human reaction time, players tend to play until they reach a difficulty score boundary, where only nearly-inhuman focus, and lots of practice, can push you beyond it. Astroblast will push your playing skills to the very limits.
Astro Smash ‘N’ Blast is an homage to these two games. It takes the same form, your ship at the bottom shoots upwards at an endless wave of plummeting targets, Rocks, Pulsars and Spinners. (There are no UFOs in this version.) There’s fewer things falling, but the game is a bit more precise about hitting small targets. Pressing the Select button turns on autofire, which you’ll probably want to use, to avoid compressing your thumb tissue into a singularity with rapid frantic tapping.
Rocks don’t split in two in this version, but otherwise it plays a lot like VCS Astroblast. Small Spinners are particularly difficult targets to hit, and must be aimed at precisely.
This version takes on a bit of inspiration from Pac-Man CE, in that in addition to having limited lives, you have a time limit. You can earn extra time by hitting +30 second targets that pass by horizontally, and you can regain hits on your ship by hitting passing 1UPs. These are the only bonuses; unlike the originals, you don’t get extra ships from points at all. Although the game ends if you run out of time, chances are great that you’re going to lose all five of your lives before then.
As in Astrosmash/blast, as you ascend to tougher difficulties, the screen’s background color changes. You probably won’t see the later levels though without a lot of practice. Astro Smash ‘N’ Blast offers a level of challenge rarely seen in most games. I prefer games like this, with a strong element of chaos, to more typical modern examples of high challenge, like bullet hell shooters and rhythm games. I think the essence of the super fast video game is in randomness, not memorizing levels and playing them almost by rote but in reacting instantly to dynamic situations, and that’s why I like all the Astro-style games.
I am left wondering what inspired Double Z to look to old Intellivision and Atari games for inspiration. They were released when I was a small child; had Double Z even been born yet when the Astro games were on store shelves? For whatever reason they made it, I am glad they did. Games like this don’t come around often any more, and I intend to put in some solid practice on it.