Namco have a rich heritage to tap into when looking to resurrect long forgotten properties. The sublime Pac-Man CE DX scooped our coveted Game of the Year in 2010, providing a fitting update to a proper classic. When it was discovered that some of the team who worked on that particular title were now involved with Galaga Legion DX, expectations became sky-high.
Galaga Legions DX isn’t the first attempt at re-imaging the classic 80s title. Released back in 2008, Galaga Legions was a supremely difficult title that was accessible only to those in possession of reflexes that bordered on the super-human, such was the relentless nature of the title. This time round Namco has decided to tone things down.
The control scheme for the original Galaga was simplicity personified and Legions is no different. The player controls a ship that is used to fight off wave after wave of Galagans. You can manoeuvre the ship in any direction and weaponry is controlled with the right analogue stick, so those accustomed to twin stick shooters will feel instantly at home.
Each Area is composed of individual waves to shoot down, ranging from simple enemies that fly in a tight formation, or command ships that are swarmed by smaller craft and protect their larger brethren. Each wave is signposted by a pseudo vapour trail before it starts, giving the player the opportunity to place themselves in the optimum position to inflict maximum damage, then move on to the next. The more eagle-eyed out there will notice large bomb-shaped appendages that are either attached or float independently in waves and which can be used to wipe out all enemies, meaning an element of strategy also comes into play.
Areas comprise of five waves, with the fifth and final one almost acting as a bit of light relief. Here the player is allowed to capture a fleet of smaller Galagas and use them as extra firepower/a protective shield, as they attempt to last up to ninety nine waves/until the timer dissipates; whatever comes first.
Graphically it certainly shares the same bright, almost hallucinatory vibe that Pac-Man DX adopted with great success, all swirling graphical flourishes and bright, vivid enemies whose appearance can be altered with some retro skins to either remind or educate those as to how the original looked back in the day. While it never reaches Space Giraffe levels of eye-watering graphics, they certainly make for a distinctive experience none the less.
And while all of the above might paint Galaga Legions DX as a triumph, that would be a mistake. For all that the game does right, the bottom line is the gameplay is now as dull as ditchwater. Each wave passes with the minimum of fuss, and even the most cack-handed of players will breeze through the first few areas, even on the highest difficulty. The only real challenge comes in the Time Attack mode where each and every second counts and where death has real consequences. Precious seconds are wasted in respawning, meaning the player will miss out on achieving the desired completion.
Even that isn’t enough to save Galaga Legions DX from being mediocre at best. It’s a shame that the answer to the original Legions title being too hard led Namco to strip the follow-up of any challenge, leaving it stuck in a no-man’s land of being too shallow an experience. With little or no reason to revisit this once completed, this makes it an opportunity that has been greatly missed.