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Arcade Follow-Up

Our trip to Reclaim Arcade was truly a unique experience. It felt as though we had been transported back in time to a different decade – a simpler time when technology was more unreachable (in the best way). The decor of the CD room made me feel like I was in an episode of Stranger Things, and added that much more to the effect of being removed from the modern day. The space was filled with the nostalgic sounds of classic video games – sounds that drowned out the reality of homework assignments and responsibilities and immersed us all in something pure, simple, and too often fleeting: fun. The game I chose to focus on more in depth was Galaga, and I recorded the third high score at the arcade.


Galaga – A Closer Look

Basic Details

  • The title of the game is Galaga (1981), and it is the sequel to the game Galaxian (1979)
  • Galaga was developed and published by Namco and was released in North America by Midway Manufacturing

Physical Design

  • The Galaga game cabinet was standard of the time, rectangular overall with sloped walls and a roof that surrounded the horizontally embedded digital screen.
  • The game includes 3 buttons: a 1 player button, a 2 player button, and a fire button. The player 1 & 2 buttons also doubled as the start game buttons. It also includes a large, singular joystick that allows you to move your ship.
  • Galaga employs a Standard Resolution Raster display.
  • It costs 25 cents per play.
  • The game’s attract mode consists of a screen displaying the high score, and instructions to “Push Start Button”. It also includes information about bonus point amounts that can be earned during gameplay.

Graphics

  • I would classify the graphics on this game as iconic. They are fairly representational – what you see is what you get. The enemies are colorful bugs of different shapes and types, each having unique flight patterns and abilities. The rockets they shoot at your fighter ship are all the same, and resemble matches (white sticks with red ovals attached).
  • Your fighter is white and red as well, however the appearance of the ship is dynamic in gameplay. If your fighter is captured, the red and white design on it inverts, and then reverts back if you are able to recapture it.
  • The action in this game is fast paced and requires multiple points of attention. This makes it challenging and requires quick and active use of hand-eye coordination.

Game Design

  • The Space genre best defines Galaga. It was a popular genre especially among earlier video games.
  • Galaga does have a high score list and I made it to #3 on the list during the time I was at Reclaim.
  • The mechanics of the game consist of a joystick and a fire button. You are only able to move your fighter left and right, and you do so in order to both shoot at the incoming enemy bugs as well as dodge their missiles.
  • The object of the game is to eliminate all enemy bugs in each stage. You can only advance once every bug has been eliminated. You get bonus points for reaching certain benchmark scores, and reaching certain score levels also rewards you with bonus lives. You lose once all your fighters have been destroyed by the enemy bugs.
  • I think that one of the principal ways the game encourages you to keep playing is through the bonus stages. In these stages, the bugs do not shoot at you or try and hit you, and you cannot lose a life. The only object of these stages is to shoot as many of the bugs as possible to gain bonus points. As aforementioned, bonus points give you advantages in the game like extra lives.
  • Clearing each stage in a fairly timely manner is common, and I believe this encourages continued play as well. It reduces fatigue on the gamer’s end and the sense of adrenaline/accomplishment after clearly each stage is addictive.

Interpretation

  • Literally, this game is about a space fighter attacking alien enemies (in the form of bugs) in order to protect itself. There is no obvious larger connotation in the game’s name/story the reveals that it might be protecting something, like the Earth. Therefore, it appears that the fighter is just traversing its way through space with only self-preservation in mind. Further interpretations can be made at the discretion of the player.

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