It's Galaga's 30th birthday. To put that in perspective, in human years, that's about 200. Positively ancient. The original game, a much simpler affair, describes rather similarly; control a space ship from thousands of feet away (i.e. it's pretty small) and blow away waves of aliens that come in to the screen, generally from the top.
What's different about Galaga Legions (2008) and this game, Galaga Legions DX, is that's it's taken everything about the formula and dialled it up to 11. It's got a host of different graphical presentation options, too, allowing you to keep the futuristic look or opt instead for something reminiscent of the original or any of several other styles, too.
Like Pac-Man Championship Edition (and it's recent DX edition), the focus of this particular title is the leaderboard score-chase. It's about learning effective techniques for eliminating enemies in ways that increase your multiplier, rather than following any kind of epic narrative (there's no narrative at all, epic or otherwise). That, and the visceral thrill of using your massively powerful spaceship to eliminate seemingly overwhelming numbers of enemies...
Fortunately, eliminating these massive, ever-attacking waves is made easier for the observant (and accurate) pilot, with each wave being lead by a main enemy Galaga, called a Leader. If you take out the Leader, all of the ships associated with that wave are taken out too - and the strategy of when and how to take them out is also the focus of the game's scoring system, all of which leads to massive amounts of screen-filling chaos.
So what's different between this version and the first variant of Legions? Not a lot. Enemies still come in formations, which are hinted at by lines drawn on the screen to give you time to move out of the way (you can move all over the screen, you're not stuck to the bottom like in the original Galaga). You still have twin-stick control of your craft and your weapons fire and you can still change your firing pattern in order to effectively deal with different types of formation. The individual mechanics of each of these things has changed slightly and, like the outstanding Gaplus, you have a host of additional firepower available to you.
The gameplay is fun, if you like your action compressed to the point where you need intense focus just to stay alive, with the difficulty set just right. At the low end of the selectable slider, newbies will still find themselves deep into the game, while the upper echelons will challenge even hardcore Legions players. The general mechanics never really vary but the application of them keeps you thinking, with enough variety to ensure that there will always be a way to tweak your technique for ever greater scores.
It's not hugely long, offering only a couple of hours or so worth of unique content, but that's really not the point. The game is about the score chase, the impossible target of achieving perfection, the incredible thrill of overcoming overwhelming odds thanks to clever application of screen-filling weaponry. It's an arcade buzz much like it's thirty-year-old big brother provided when I was a child, cleverly updated and relevant to a new generation of gamer. If this sounds like you, don't even hesitate.