What is this? An iPhone game that controls perfectly fine, with no complaints connected to the lack of a d-pad or buttons? I know! I almost couldn't believe it myself. And a port of a classic game that, again, has no issues or drawbacks to being a mobile game? I'm surprised as you are.
It's nothing against the multitude if iPhone game makers, but I'm sad to say that much of what I've been playing/reviewing lately has been poor. That's not the case for Namco Bandai's Galaga Remix for iPhone and iPod Touch. This is how mobile games should be done.
Galaga Remix (iPhone)
Seller: Namco Bandai
Released: March 31, 2009
We've all played Galaga, the 1980s arcade classic that has you pew pew pew-ing waves of aliens in space from your ship that can strangely only fly from left to right. Galaga Remix has that very game included in the package, alongside an updated landscape-mode update to the classic.
As for the original, you'll play it with your iPhone or iPod Touch held upright, in a game that looks to be spot-on copy of the original. In the best control scheme, you'll use your left thumb to rock back and forth on a couple of virtual buttons that move your ship from left to right, while your right thumb hits the fire button. I'm pleased to say that this game controls perfectly in this mode. Whether you're lifting your thumb to hit these left and right virtual buttons, or just sliding your thumb back and forth, you have tight, accurate control over your ship. For as many games as I've reviewed and played on the device, this is one of the first where I was taken back at how well the game controlled. Other than this, it's Galaga, just like you've always known it: simple and addicting.
First boss: the big fly...thing.
There's also a landscape-held Remix mode, which adds fancy new graphics for enemies and backgrounds, as well as fully orchestrated music and some huge bosses to take down every few levels. The spacey backgrounds and the bosses look great in this new version. As for the rest, well, there's not much you can do with the Galaga forumla. It's a good-looking iPhone game, that's for sure.
The control in the Remix mode is almost as good. The firing works just as you'd expect, but the left-to-right control isn't as tight, and it seems like more thumb/finger travel is required, making it a slight bit less responsive than in the original mode. Mind you, this isn't a deal-breaker, and still controls much better than the majority of the virtual button titles I've played.
Woo! Double fire.
There are two other control schemes available in both modes, but neither of them seem to work as well as the virtual button one does. The tilt-to-move mode is trash. It's not near as responsive as it needs to be and only seems to complicate matters. There's also a touchscreen slider mode, which has you pulling a slider back and forth. Your ship moves one-to-one with the slider's position. It's not as intuitive as the buttons, though in some boss battles it does seem to help you in dodging incoming enemies and projectiles with it's quicker reaction time.
In all, I'm happy to recommend Galaga Remix for the iPhone. It's a satisfying retro-dose of pick-up-and-go action, and one of the few games where the virtual button controls (at least in one mode) don't hinder the fun at all.
Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)