An icon returns
This week is a very special one for the retro purveyors over at Hamster Corp, this week sees the publisher hit 300 consecutive weeks of console releases, having rolled out almost six years’ worth of golden oldies to its record-breaking Arcade Archives range. And, befitting the importance of the occasion, the publisher is taking it right back to the 1970s, with a rerelease of Namco’s first major smash hit, Galaxian.
Released to the burgeoning arcade market in 1979, Galaxian was Namco’s effort to capitalize on the earth-shattering success of Taito’s 1978 release, Space Invaders. Following a similar formula, Galaxian has the player control a space vessel at the foot of the screen, taking on patterns of enemies that form in concurrent lines across the top of the screen.
Quite unlike Space Invaders, however, the enemy ships in Galaxian break away from the pack, dive-bombing the player while firing projectiles. This startling twist immediately increased the pace of Galaxian over its forebearer, while also winning over players with its colorful sprites, “futuristic” sound effects, and scrolling background — affording a faux optical effect of space travel. It was only a year on from Taito’s groundbreaking release, but Galaxian seemed light years ahead at the time.
Check out the old-school action in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber Snake Latino.
Galaxian was a global hit, shifting over 50,000 arcade units worldwide in its first three years of release. It would receive an array of home ports on consoles and home computers, while paving the way for its equally successful and influential sequel Galaga. Followed by a host of spin-offs, sequels, remixes, and rereleases, the Galaxian franchise has shifted over 12 million games since 1979, and is recognized by video game fans the world over as one of the defining titles of the shmup genre in general and of gaming as a whole.
Galaxian is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.