Galaga Special Edition for Android may sound like a retro enthusiast's dream come true, but it's not. This "Special Edition" free download fails to deliver on its name and also has quite a few disappointing imperfections.
One thing we can all remember about playing the original Galaga standup arcade game was its uniquely frustrating fixed-shooter style of gameplay. The game allowed you to move left and right, but not forward or backward. Meanwhile, enemies would come swirling in from the sides and top of the screen and eventually settle into a battle formation in the center, where you could then pick them off with your ship's puny gun.
Galaga Special Edition for Android, on the other hand, has very little in common with this fading memory that many of us share. In that sense, it fails at perhaps its most important objective: to drum up old memories of an arcade favorite. Let's face it, no one is downloading Galaga Special Edition purely for its new-school shoot-em-up action. People want it for its nostalgia factor, and in that department, it disappoints.
To start, your spaceship sits at the bottom of the screen with its guns pointing upward, similar to the original game. However, you can now move up and down as well as left and right. Also, your primary weapon is a sort of three-way cannon, rather than the iconic puny shooter that frustrated so many of us. The newfangled cannon is, as expected, easier to aim, but again, it is a huge departure from the original game. There's also a sort of companion pod that can be deployed to assist you in your shooting. I found this pod difficult to use, and even useless, as it sometimes shot in unpredictable directions.
What does carry over from Special Edition's predecessor, however, is its storyline; it still pits you, a space fighter pilot, against an army of "insectoid aliens" swarming out of hyperspace. These aliens fly in formation all over your screen, and no longer settle in the center the way they once did in the '80s. Some might enjoy this scheme, but again, it's an utter disappointment for anyone who loved Galaga. Personally, I would've enjoyed this updated game much more if Namco had leveled up the graphics and weapons, but left the gameplay and iconic elements as close to the original as possible.