Deluxe Galaga (AGA)

Title		Deluxe Galaga (AGA)
Programmer      Edgar M. Vigdal, PD
Game Type	Shoot-em-up
Players		1 or 2
Compatibility	AGA
HD Installable  Yes
Submission	Joona Palaste ( Profiled Reviewer

This is truly a game that deserves the praise of "a Shareware game which
is better than many commercial games". Not since Xenon 2 have I seen a
shoot-em-up game that was this addictive, and it's all downloadable for
free. But what exactly is this wondrous game?

First let's look back through history. In the transition from the 1970s to
the 1980s, the games people were playing were simple and predictable
shoot-em-ups like Space Invaders, which were a quick diversion, but soon
became monotonous. In 1981, the Japanese company Namco released a coin-op
called Galaga, which was a great leap forwards from Space Invaders.

No longer did the aliens march leisurely and predictably left and right
and then stepped down, practically lining up to be shot. No, they flew in
formations of different shapes, and occasionally one or two of the aliens
would make a solo flight and try to collide with the player, all the while
shooting its tiny projectiles. Some of the aliens had tractor beams, which
they used to scoop up the player's ship. If you had a life left, you could
rescue your previous ship with the next one and double your firepower.
This kept people hooked for years.

Numerous Galaga clones have since appeared on both the Amiga and the PC,
but none as reputable as this one: Deluxe Galaga. Born in October 1993 at
the hands of the Norwegian programmer Edgar M. Vigdal, as the second of
his "Deluxe" series (the first was Deluxe Pacman), the game was released
to AmiNet, where it gained an excellent reputation and has since been
greatly updated. I am reviewing Deluxe Galaga AGA v2.6B, the last public
release of Deluxe Galaga.

The game takes place over a whole host of levels (75, in fact). In each of
these your task is simply to shoot all the aliens. Your ship is limited to
horizontal movement at the bottom of the screen, while the aliens have
full 2D freedom to fly wherever they please. Still, their attack patterns
are predetermined and can be learnt pretty quickly.

You start out in the game with only a small single-shot weapon but there
are upgrades available for bigger guns like the triple shot or the
strangely-named War.I.Plasma, as well as shields, extra lives and other
stuff. These upgrades can be either left behind by dead aliens or bought
at a shop which appears every time you complete a series of 4 levels.
Getting a decent weapon is essential to survival past the first 10 or so
levels, so it's good advice to always be on the look-out for more money.

The aliens in the game are really diverse. There are 18 different
graphical styles of aliens, some of which I have given nicknames like
"taxis", "fans" or "flowers". (The "fans" in particular are quite tricky
buggers!) Every one of these alien "species" has a set of 4 levels: Two
normal attack waves, a mothership attack wave where the normal aliens are
accompanied by a couple of bigger ones, and then either a "kamikaze"
attack wave or a bonus level. The exceptions to this pattern are the
really huge war cruisers which appear on levels 25, 50 and 75.

While merely killing all the aliens on the normal 75 levels would be fun
enough, there are two sub-games available: memory and meteor storm. In the
memory sub-game, you have to turn over cards and match pairs, keeping all
the pairs you find. (It is similar to the one in Super Mario III.) In the
meteor storm sub-game, you fly at a frantic speed through a meteor shower,
trying to avoid all the meteors. You can't shoot in this sub-game, so
avoidance is your only chance of progress.

The rewards for your progress are high scores, loads of money, and rank
markers. Rank markers are left behind by the bigger aliens, and collecting
6 different ones advances you to the next rank, of which there are five.
The only difference your rank makes is more fame in the High Scores list,

Deluxe Galaga tries its best to look like a coin-op from the 1980s, and to
this end it succeeds remarkably well. You'd be forgiven for reaching for
your back pocket before you grab the joystick. The graphics are
wonderfully 1980s styled, with loads of pretty colours. For the sound,
you get a choice between sound effects (your typical 1980s shoot-em-up
variety) or music, which you can choose yourself by loading your own
ProTracker or MED modules into the game. I always use the music modules.

The gameplay is about as basic as it gets, with no skills required
beyond fast reactions. But this is exactly what you'll require from a
1980s-style shoot-em-up. All the extras such as the sub-games make the
game even more polished.

For good-quality blasting fun on even a lower-specced AGA Amiga, you
simply can't go wrong with Deluxe Galaga. I've played it for years, and
amassed a high score of over 51 million points (on Easy level, though).
The only thing which I'm disappointed with is that Edgar M. Vigdal has
stopped writing Amiga games, and as such this is as good as Deluxe Galaga
will ever get. The enclosed documentation mentions a "super version" and
development tools, neither of which I have ever seen. This is truly a
shame, as this could have evolved into the perfect shoot-em-up game at the
hands of die-hard enthuasists.

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