reviews\ Jul 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Galaga Legions DX Review


If Pac-Man CE DX turned a great game into an even greater one, Galaga Legions DX turns a good puzzle shooter into one of the definitive shoot 'em ups of recent memory. At first glance, the game looks almost identical to the original Galaga Legions, but a list of brilliant changes (some inspired by Pac-Man CE DX) makes this one stick in your mind whereas the original was quickly forgotten.

The developers of the DX games have established a rulebook that works just as well for Galaga as it does for Pac-Man. A time attack structure has you eking out every last point in a mad rush for high scores, while a touch of slow-motion lets you move through the enemies like an all-powerful bad ass.

Both Pac-Man and Galaga DX look absolutely insane when played with any amount of competence, and when the controller is in your hands, the sensation is empowering. Imagine the elegance of an expert in a bullet-hell shooter but a feeling you can obtain with only a bit of practice.

The key to making the game look so effortless is for it to still retain many of the puzzle aspects present in the original Galaga Legions. Enemies fly in predictable patterns and the game even tells you what those patterns are via a slick graphical overlay. Your gun fires as fast as the number of enemies in front of it, so as long as you place your shots properly you're practically invincible.

Where DX improves on that formula is in the transition to twin-stick shooter. In the first game you had satellites—turrets that could be placed in any direction—but your ship could only fire forward. Here the satellites are replaced with direct twin-stick firing and an alt-fire mode that lets you aim your shots in several directions at once. The alt-fire is especially awesome for how intuitive it is, and switching between the two modes to dispatch the enemy swarms more quickly is immensely satisfying.

The cherry on top is the generous slow-down that occurs when danger gets microscopically close. If this were a normal bullet-hell game, you'd die over and over trying to pull off the aggressive style required to do well, but here it's encouraged to run headfirst into the mouth of hell.

That desire to fight at the front lines comes from the way each area is set up. An area is split into four sections, with the first four operating as a preview of what's to come and a mad rush to kill everything in as short a time as possible. The faster you finish, the more time you have to play the final section, where you'll get most of your score.

Compared to the original Legions, DX has nearly twice as much content. But whereas that game became so difficult that you never saw the end, this one lets you burn through it all in an hour or so. The difference is in the structure because DX draws you toward the high score chase much more effectively than the original. Like Pac-Man DX, you'll eventually want to focus on Championship mode, diving head first into the most competitive leaderboard in the game.

The focus on high scores is every bit as well done as it is in Pac-Man DX, even letting you quickly and easily watch the top replays. Suffice to say, the top players have already come up with some creative ways to scrounge up every last point.

If there's anything to complain about, it's the fact that Galaga Legions DX looks almost identical to its predecessor. If not for the gameplay adjustments, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. Several graphical filters let you tailor the look of the game to your own preference, but otherwise this is the same exact game in terms of presentation. You could say the same about Pac-Man DX, but that game improved the look of the original dramatically by comparison.

The bottom line is that if you enjoy shoot 'em ups and you liked the Pac-Man DX treatment, you'll likely fall in love with Galaga Legions DX. When most shooters curb stomp their players into submission, DX makes you feel like a supreme being. It's almost shocking how much more fun it is compared to the original.


About The Author
Joe Donato Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I've wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I'd rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.
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