SNES Review – Galaxy Wars

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I had a hell of a time finding a game to review this time around. I’ve been going through the alphabet without any real problems so far, but apparently there are a ton of JRPGs that start with the letter G. Since I can’t read a word of Japanese, I’ll have to leave it to someone else to write about such games as G.O.D: Mezame yoto Yobu Koe ga Kikoe, Gaia Saver, Gakkou de Atta Kowai Hanashi and Galaxy Robo. Finally, I found Galaxy Wars, a 1995 entry for the Super Famicon, which may be the most underwhelming 16-bit game I’ve ever played.

Galaxy Wars is a port of the 1979 arcade game of the same name. It plays like a cross between Space Invaders and Frogger, in which you fire off rockets from the bottom of the screen, navigate a field of fish-shaped asteroids, dodge curiously sperm-shaped laser blasts and blow up invading alien ships. Blowing up ships gains you points, enough points earn you an extra life, lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a decent enough little game – or it would’ve been for 1979, anyway – maybe not as addictive as the games it borrows from, but in its day I could see it eating up a fair amount of quarters (or 100-yen coins, I guess).

The Super Famicon port of Galaxy Wars is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the arcade version. It offers both black and white and color modes, with the latter replicating the look of tinted screen overlays that were used to provide color for early arcade and console games. There’s also a Neo Mode, which improves the graphics to a 16-bit standard, and gives you the ability to pick up asteroids to give you an extra attack (when the game feels like it, otherwise you’ll just crash into them and die). Oh, and some enemies now fire a new kind of slow-moving, banana-shaped projectiles. You can also play the original game with a single life Challenge Mode, and there’s a token two player mode, where the players take turns clearing boards. All versions feature the same minimalist sound – there’s no music, and the sound effects are the shrill, piercing type synonymous with early arcades.

And… that’s pretty much it. Aside from the minor changes of the Neo Mode, which are really just a surface level re-skin, this is one of the most bare-bones ports I’ve ever seen. In pure data size, this must have been one of the smallest games ever stuck into a Super Famicon cartridge. And this was released in 1995, the same year that brought us Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and Tales of Phantasia. I understand the appeal of retro games, but there’s no way Galaxy Wars justified a solo release like this. Maybe as part of a big collection of classic rereleases, or as extra content to a new version that was remade from the ground up… but imagine how disappointing it must have been for any kid who got this game, turned it on, and within five minutes was left asking the question, “was that it?”.

Well, yes. That’s all there is. As an Atari or ColecoVision game, Galaxy Wars would have been a solid release. It would have been underwhelming on the NES or Gameboy. As a Super Famicon game, it’s nothing short of baffling in its inadequacy.

     Final Score – 3/10

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