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Galaxian flyer.jpg
U.S. arcade flyer for Galaxian
Atari, Inc.
Designer(s)Kazunori Sawano
Programmer(s)Kōichi Tashiro
Platform(s)Arcade, Various
  • JP: October 1979
  • NA: December 1979
Genre(s)Fixed shooter
Mode(s)Up to 2 players, alternating turns
CabinetUpright, cabaret, cocktail
Arcade systemNamco Galaxian
CPU1x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz
DisplayVertical orientation, Raster (RGB color), 224 x 256 resolution

Galaxian (ギャラクシアン, Gyarakushian) is an arcade game that was developed by Namco and released in October 1979. It was published by Namco in Japan and imported to North America by Midway that December. A fixed shooter in which the player controls a spaceship at the bottom of the screen, and shoots enemies descending in various directions, it was designed to compete with Taito Corporation's successful earlier game Space Invaders (which was released in the previous year, and also imported to the US by Midway Games).

Galaxian was very successful for Namco and introduced several "firsts". Although not the first color video game, Galaxian took RGB color graphics a step further with multi-colored animated sprites and explosions, different colored fonts for the score and high score, the scrolling starfield, and graphic icons that show the number of lives left and how many stages the player had completed.

It spawned an even more successful and long-lived sequel, Galaga, in 1981, and the lesser-known Gaplus and Galaga '88 in 1984 and 1987 respectively.


Gameplay screenshot

Galaxian expanded on the formula pioneered by Space Invaders. As in the earlier game, Galaxian features a horde of attacking aliens that exchanged shots with the player. In contrast to Space Invaders, Galaxian added an element of drama by having the aliens periodically make kamikaze-like dives at the player's ship, the Galaxip.[1] The game's plot consists of a title screen that displayed the message "We are the Galaxians / Mission:Destroy Aliens".[2]

Swarm after swarm of alien armies attack the player's ship that moves left and right at the bottom of the wraparound screen. The Galaxip can only have one shot on screen at a time. The player defeats one swarm, only to have it replaced by another more aggressive and challenging swarm in the next stage. A starfield scrolls in the background. The game plays a simple theme tune upon starting the game, as well as looping background sounds while playing.

Development and release[edit]

A Galaxian arcade game displayed at the mNACTEC museum in Terrassa, Catalonia

The game was developed by Namco in 1979, and released in Japan that year. It was designed to build and improve upon the formula of Taito's game Space Invaders, which revolutionized the gaming industry upon its release a year earlier. Galaxian incorporated new technology into its dedicated arcade system board, the Namco Galaxian board. Unlike Space Invaders, which was black and white and featured enemies that could only move vertically and horizontally as they descended, Galaxian had a color screen and enemies that descended in patterns and came from various directions. The result was more complex and difficult play.[3]

The game's Namco Galaxian arcade system board also introduced a tilemap hardware model, which renders a tilemap consisting of 8×8 pixel tiles. This reduced processing and memory requirements by up to 64 times compared to the traditional framebuffer model previously used by Space Invaders.[4] The Galaxian board also pioneered a hardware sprite system which animates pre-loaded sprites over a scrolling background.[5]

Soon after the Japanese release, Namco partnered with the American company Midway to release the game in North America. Midway had previously published Space Invaders in the market, but had to seek new foreign partners when Taito decided to market their games themselves.


Video magazine in 1982 reviewed the Astrocade version of Galaxian (named Galactic Invasion), noting that the graphics were inferior to the coin-op and PC versions, but praising the play-action as "magnificent" compared to other console versions.[6]:43 The Astrocade version would later be awarded a Certificate of Merit for "Best Arcade-to-Home Video Game Translation" at the 4th annual Arkie Awards.[7]:108

Arcade Express reviewed the Atari 5200 version in November 1982 and scored it 7 out of 10.[8][full citation needed] Home Computing Weekly in 1983 gave the Spectrum version of Galaxian 3/5 stars describing it as a well-written version and praising the graphics as fast although flickery.[9] Softline in 1983 criticized the Atari 8-bit version of the game for being shipped on ROM cartridge, which raised its cost, and stated that "this game becomes tedious very quickly".[10]


Galaxian spawned several follow-up games. The most popular of these was its immediate successor, Galaga, which largely eclipsed its predecessor in popularity, introducing aliens attacking in intricate formations, multiple shots, and bonus stages. A third game in the series, Gaplus, was released in 1984. As with Galaga, this was a fixed shooter, with limited vertical movement (like Centipede). However, by 1984 the novelty of the Space Invaders formula had faded, and it was no longer successful. A fourth game, Galaga '88, was released in 1987, and imported to North America by Atari Games; and a fifth and final game, Galaga Arrangement, was released as part of the Namco Classic Collection Vol. 1, in 1995.

The Namco Galaxian board's 2D rendering system, which animates pre-loaded sprites over a scrolling tiled background, became the basis for later arcade system boards such as Nintendo's Radar Scope and Donkey Kong arcade hardware, and home consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System.[5]


Atari, Inc. published ports of Galaxian for its own systems—Atari 8-bit family,[11] Atari 2600,[12] Atari 5200— in 1982-3, three or more years after Galaxian appeared in arcades and a year or more after Galaga. Additional ports were published under the Atarisoft label: Apple II, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, VIC-20, IBM PC, and ZX Spectrum. Ports from other companies were sold for MSX (Europe and Japan only), NEC PC-8801, Famicom (Japan only) and Sharp X1.

A Bally Astrocade version was published as Galaxian, but the name was later changed to Galactic Invasion.

Coleco released a stand-alone Mini-Arcade tabletop version of Galaxian in 1981,[13] which, along with Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Frogger, sold three million units combined.[14] Entex released a handheld electronic game called Galaxian 2 in 1981. The game is called Galaxian 2 because it has a two-player mode. It is not a sequel, as there is no Entex Galaxian.[15]


Galaxian is included in the Namco Museum series of collections across several platforms.

Galaxian and Galaga were bundled together for a Game Boy release as Arcade Classic 3.

Galaxian was released on Microsoft Windows in 1995 as part of Microsoft Return of Arcade.

The game was also released as part of the Pac-Man's Arcade Party 30th Anniversary arcade machine.

The game has also been seen in Jakks Pacific's "Plug It In & Play" TV game controllers.

Galaxian, along with Galaga, Gaplus, and Galaga '88, was "redesigned and modernized"[16] for an iPhone app compilation called the Galaga 30th Anniversary Collection, released in commemoration of the event by Namco Bandai.[17]

Super Impulse also released a stand-alone Tiny Arcade version of Galaxian.[18]

Games featuring the Galaxian flagship[edit]

The Galaxian flagship has made numerous cameo appearances in other Namco games (like Namco's signature character Pac-Man and the Special Flag from Rally-X, which also went on to become recurring items in other Namco games).

  • Pac-Man (1980): The flagship makes an appearance as a bonus item on Rounds 9 and 10, and is worth 2000 points when it is eaten.
  • Galaga (1981): The flagship makes an appearance as one of the "transform" ships, and attacks by splitting into two, then three clones of itself. If all three are killed, they are worth 3000 points, and this was the first time they reappeared as an evil character.
  • Dig Dug (1982): The flagship makes an appearance as a bonus item on rounds 16 and 17, and is worth 7000 points when collected.
  • Super Pac-Man (1982): All regular edible items on Rounds 15, 31, 47, and 63 are flagships, and they are worth 150 points each. Starting from their second appearance on Round 31, they are 160 points instead (given that every regular item from Round 16 onwards is).
  • Pac-Man Plus (1982): The flagship's role is exactly the same as the role it was given in the original Pac-Man arcade game.
  • Pac & Pal (1983): The flagship makes an appearance as one of the "special items" (that make Pac-Man turn blue when eaten), and allows him to stun the ghosts for a short while by spitting a Galaga-style tractor beam. It is worth 1000 points if it is eaten.
  • Pac-Land (1984): When the ghosts fly past in airplanes, they sometimes drop flagships instead of miniaturized ghosts, and they are worth 7650 points (765 being Namco's goroawase number in Japanese) if Pac-Man jumps up and eats them before they hit the ground.
  • Super Xevious (1984): The flagship makes its first appearance as an enemy since Galaga and in a silver form, and sometimes several of them attack the Solvalou at once by flying towards it from the top of the screen. They are worth 300 points each when killed.
  • Genpei Tōma Den (1986): The flagship makes an appearance in an alternate colour palette as one of the four special items which are left behind by the flame-spitting stone lions in the Small Mode stages when they are killed. It is worth 1000 points when collected.
  • Quester (1987): The blocks on the fifth round are arranged to look like a flagship - but this is not an official reappearance.
  • Pac-Mania (1987): The flagship makes a 3D appearance as a special item in two different forms, the second one being the silver form from Super Xevious. The regular versions are worth 7650 points if eaten and the silver versions are worth 9000 points if eaten.
  • Pistol Daimyo no Bōken (1990): The flagship makes an appearance as an enemy, along with the other Galaxian characters, and they attack by flying towards Pistol Daimyo while firing shots at him.[19]
  • Tinkle Pit (1993): The flagship makes an appearance with two of the other Galaxian characters (Red Alien and Galaxip), but this time they appear as three of the game's forty-six hidden bonus items (on Stages 6, 17 and 24). It is worth 800 points if collected.
  • Tekken (1994 - Arcade, 1995 - PlayStation) and Tekken 2 (1995 - Arcade, 1996 - PlayStation): Winning at least seven rounds in "Arcade Vs." mode will reveal the Galaxian flagship on the lower left (or right) hand corner of the screen. In order for this to be seen, the arcade operator should have set the "Number of Wins Shown By" option to "Fruit".
  • Namco Classic Collection Vol. 1 (1995): The flagship makes an appearance in Galaga Arrangement, as a Challenging Stage enemy in Space-Plant Zone (Stage 20) and as a regular stage enemy in Space-Flower Zone (Stage 26). They are worth 150 points when killed during their appearances as regular enemies, but are worth 300 points when killed during their appearances as Challenging Stage enemies.
  • Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2 (1996): The flagship makes its appearances in both Pac-Man Arrangement and Dig Dug Arrangement. In Pac-Man Arrangement, the Galaxian Flagship makes its appearance in Rounds 15 and 16, and it is worth 5000 points if Pac-Man eats it - and in Dig Dug Arrangement, it appears in Rounds 17 and 18, and it is worth 7000 points if Dig Dug picks it up.
  • Pac-Man World (1999): The flagship again appears in a Pac-Man game, and it must be collected in order to access the mazes.
  • Pac-Man World 2 (2002): The flagship teleports Pac-Man to mazes. Its point value will be the same as the points earned for the maze it teleported him to (if he manages to complete it) - with an added bonus of 2000 points (its value from the original Pac-Man).
  • Pac-Man World 3 (2005): The flagship's role is exactly the same as it was given in Pac-Man World 2 three years previously.
  • Namco Museum Battle Collection (2005): The arrangement versions of Pac-Man and Dig Dug, later called Pac-Man Remix and Dig Dug Remix in the iOS version, feature the flagship. Pac-Man Remix features both the flagship (worth 3200), and the Red Galaxian (worth 2800) as bonus fruits, while in Dig Dug Remix, the flagship is a bonus vegetable and is worth 7000 (just like it was in the original Dig Dug).
  • Dig Dug: Digging Strike (2005): Just like the original Dig Dug, the flagship appears as a vegetable on Round 13, except it is only worth 6000 points when Dig Dug picks it up this time (as opposed to the 7000 it was worth when he picked it up in the original).
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition (2007): The flagship reappears as a bonus fruit, but this time it's joined by the Galaga Boss, King Gaplus and two drones, one each from Galaxian and Galaga. Their respective point values are all unknown.
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (2010): The flagship, the Galaxian/Galaga drones, the Galaga Boss, and the King Gaplus serve exactly the same purpose as they did in the original Championship Edition three years previously (they are only bonus fruits).
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (2012): The character customization allows the players to add decals to their fighters' clothes. These decals include the flagship, along with other classic Namco sprites (like Pac-Man, Pooka and Fygar from Dig Dug, and Mappy).
  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U (2014): The flagship appears as one of the sprites Pac-Man summons in his "Bonus Fruit" attack, referencing its appearance in Pac-Man's original arcade game. The flagship, along with the player-controlled ship from Galaxian, also have a chance of being summoned during Pac-Man's "Namco Roulette" taunt.

In the competitive arena[edit]

The Galaxian world record has been the focus of many competitive gamers since its release. The most famous Galaxian rivalry has been between British player Gary Whelan and American Perry Rodgers, who faced off at Apollo Amusements in Pompano Beach, Florida, USA, on April 6–9, 2006. Whelan held the world record with 1,114,550 points,[20] until beaten by newcomer Aart van Vliet, of the Netherlands, who scored 1,653,270 points on May 27, 2009 at the Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, USA.[21]


  1. ^ Galaxian at the Killer List of Videogames
  2. ^ "Galaxian Screen Grab, Killer List of Videogames". 2010-06-01.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Kent, Steven (2001). "The Golden Age". The Ultimate History of Video Games. Random House Digital. ISBN 0-7615-3643-4.
  4. ^ Mark J. P. Wolf (15 June 2012). Before the Crash: Early Video Game History. Wayne State University Press. p. 173. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b Making the Famicom a Reality, Nikkei Electronics (September 12, 1994)
  6. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (May 1982). "Arcade Alley: Astrovision's Rising Star". Video. Reese Communications. 6 (2): 42–43. ISSN 0147-8907.
  7. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (February 1983). "Arcade Alley: The Fourth Annual Arcade Awards". Video. Reese Communications. 6 (11): 30, 108. ISSN 0147-8907.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Harris, Ron ed. Spectrum Software Reviews - Testing, testing... 10 programs for the Spectrum: Galaxian Spectrum £4.95. Home Computing Weekly. Issue 4. Pg.41. 29 March 1983.
  10. ^ Bang, Derrick (May–Jun 1983). "Beating the Classics". Computer Gaming World. p. 43. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Atari 400 800 XL XE Galaxian". Atari Mania.
  12. ^ "Atari 2600 VCS Galaxian". Atari Mania.
  13. ^ "Coleco Galaxian". Handheld Museum.
  14. ^ "More Mini-Arcades A Comin'". Electronic Games. 4 (16): 10. June 1983. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  15. ^ Morgan, Rik. "Entex Galaxian 2". Retrieved 2010-10-23. Entex Galaxian 2, based on Bally/Midway's Galaxian arcade game.
  16. ^ "Jesse David Hollington, "Namco releases Galaga 30th Anniversary Collection"". 2011-06-09.
  17. ^ "Galaga 30th Anniversary Collection information from Apple iTunes". 2011-06-09.
  18. ^ "Miniature iconic arcade games are now available from Super Impulse". 2017-10-14.
  19. ^ "ピストル大名の冒険". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Guinness World Records 2008 - Gamer's Edition", page 243
  21. ^ "Twin Galaxies' Galaxian High Score Rankings". 2009-12-27. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04.

External links[edit]