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Galaga For Atari 2600

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Yeah with 7800 difficulty turned up its the best home port.. I like the wide playfield and the sound is good as well.

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I would go for a game that was Galaxian-style plus the ship capture, challenging stage, and enemy entry phase.

 

Those are the key elements to me. Anything without those shouldn't be called Galaga.

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If someone is truly considering coming up with a homebrew Galaga, an option to use paddles would add a nice variety to the game play. The paddles can be auto-detected by software I think. Galaga, Pacman and Donkey Kong are three of my favorite arcade games. Most of the arcades in the early 80s used multicolor sprites, and the 8x8 tile based sprite system on the NES seemed perfectly designed to replicate arcade style play. I have Galaxian Famicom and Galaga NES and Galaxian is rock solid. For some reason, the Famicom Galaxian game (a lot of early arcade ports released in the early years of Famicom never made it over to the states) seems to run a little sluggish on my NES compared to Galaga, but I actually think Galaxian plays better on the Atari 2600 for some reason. The NES conversion of Galaga is perfect IMO, and I've played my fair share of Galaga on those later 2000s "Class of 1981" Reunion Ms Pacman / Galaga arcade cabinets which seem to be everywhere. 1981 was also my birth year, which is pretty cool. I just can't stand the "turbo speed" that they have Ms Pacman set up for on most of the arcade machines (it's kind of a catch-22: you can escape the ghosts more easily, but she's also harder to control meaning more frequent wrong turns - I think it can be changed in the arcade DIP switch settings but I'm not sure).

Edited by stardust4ever

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I always wondered why there are so few home ports of Galaga anyway... Galaxian seems to have been ported to almost every console and home computer, while Galaga has very few official ports, like on the 7800. On the C64 there's only an unofficial port/clone, most systems don't seem to have it at all.

 

The answer is simple. Galaga is newer and came out when most of the home consoles were dying. That's why you see ports on NES and the 7800 rather than anything before them. Because of the arcade game being more advanced, due to being newer they didn't bother or had trouble with it. Jr. Pac-Man doesn't have too many ports either as it is newer. Pac n' Pal doesn't seem to have any ports that I know of.

Edited by TheGameCollector

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Sorry to resurrect this old topic, but I'm looking at such 2600 homebrews as Space Rocks and Star Castle Arcade, with lots of objects moving on the screen and lots of eye-candy, and I do have to ask: Is it such a stretch to do Galaga on the 2600? If the programmer changes the name of the game (like it was done with Space Rocks) he can give himself some design freedom:

 

1) Instead of having the main alien formation move outward then inward, they could move sideways (one row moves left, the next moves right, etc.)

 

2) Small formations entering the screen could contain a few less aliens (say 4 or 6 instead of 8 ).

 

3) The alien capture beam could be done in a simpler manner compared to the arcade game.

 

In essence, the 2600 version could look simpler yet still recreate the feel of Galaga.

 

But then again, I'm very, very far from being an expert at 2600 programming, so I don't really know if what I'm proposing is actually doable. Seems to me the 8K of RAM in the Melody board opens up a lot of possibilities for those who know how to harness it... :)

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I have no doubt a game like Galaga is now possible on the 2600, especially with something like the Melody board. However, it does run the risk of turning into a very painful flickerfest.

 

1) Instead of having the main alien formation move outward then inward, they could move sideways (one row moves left, the next moves right, etc.)

Probably the easiest to do would be to imitate Galaxian's method of the formation moving slowly side to side, all together. That would take away a little from Galaga's uniqueness, but I don't think it would be greatly missed.

 

2) Small formations entering the screen could contain a few less aliens (say 4 or 6 instead of 8 ).

That's still an awful lot of aliens to flicker. In the challenge stage, all four or six aliens could appear on the same scanline. And don't forget the extra kamikaze aliens in the later stages.

 

You also have to take the display of the formation into account. If Space Invaders and Galaxian are any indication, the 2600 can't display more than six "static" characters in a row without flicker. So, either there are significantly fewer aliens each level, or, even more flicker is required to display the formation.

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The patterns are two complicated in Galaga. Galaxian and Space Invaders were possible because very few sprites (or none) ever broke formation. The bonus stages in Galaga would be nearly unplayable due to flickering.

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The answer is simple. Galaga is newer and came out when most of the home consoles were dying. That's why you see ports on NES and the 7800 rather than anything before them. Because of the arcade game being more advanced, due to being newer they didn't bother or had trouble with it. Jr. Pac-Man doesn't have too many ports either as it is newer. Pac n' Pal doesn't seem to have any ports that I know of.

 

Simple, but probably not accurate. Galaga came out in 1981. Tons of arcade games, including Dig Dug, which did get a VCS port, came out in 1982 and later. But Galaga, as noted above, is far more complicated than Dig Dug, and thus would be rather poor looking on the 2600.

 

Also, not sure where the idea that Galaga never got any love. Besides the 7800 and NES, it also was on the Game Boy, MSX, FDS, SRG-1000, and had a clone on the Tandy CoCo. Galaga 88 also made it to the PC Engine and Sega Game Gear, and of course was a staple of every Namco compilation from the PS1 onward.

 

To me, the simple answer is that the VCS just can't handle it, or perhaps if it can, the programmers back then didn't really think so.

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The NES version of Galaga is great btw.

 

Ironically, I own Space Invaders and Galaxian for the Famicom (never got US release) and I can say beyond reasonable doubt that the VCS version of both games are better. Then some ports to both systems are equally good, like Joust...

 

Remember how badly some games like the original VCS Pacman, DK and DK Jr sucked on VCS but the NES ports were pretty good and very playable? Well with all the sub-par arcade ports the Atari received, I believe Atari actually did us a service by not porting Galaga.

 

Unlike Space Invaders and Galaxian the enemy movements are much more complex on VCS and the bonus stages would have been a mess.

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Buy a 7800 play galaga and enjoy life. Its the best version of Galaga ever! Good sound, great non flicker graphics. I thought it was ok till I discovered the dual ship trick.. killa!!

 

 

Edit. Wow I already commented on this. I got 7800 turrets..

Sorry. But just sayin!!

Edited by Jinks

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Namco did the NES port inhouse, and the US version was distributed by Bandai.

 

Namco... Bandai. Where have I heard that before?

 

Anyhoo, just to clear things up, Galaxian Arcade was a joint effort between another hacker and myself. I redrew the aliens so they no longer looked like teddy bears; he removed that ugly orange frame around the playfield. For some reason, the other guy didn't seem too keen on being credited for his work.

 

But back to Galaga. It really was a game intended for a next generation console... there's far more onscreen activity than the Atari 2600 can handle. You might be able to fake the large number of enemies with TIA tricks, but it would look and feel severely compromised. Heck, I'm not even satisfied with the Atari 7800 version, which lacks the grace and the crisp resolution of the arcade game. I think the 5200 and the ColecoVision might be able to do Galaga. However, I strongly doubt they would have been any better than the 7800 game, and would probably have been a little worse.

 

I think a derivative of Galaga would be doable on the Atari 2600, as long as the programmer didn't overreach. Wasn't someone making a batari BASIC port of Satan's Hollow? That's not too far off.

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I think the 5200 and the ColecoVision might be able to do Galaga. However, I strongly doubt they would have been any better than the 7800 game, and would probably have been a little worse.

Oh, almost certainly the CV could do it!

 

msx_galaga.gif

 

Here's what the MSX version looks like - same CPU, same video controller, similar sound chip. A ColecoVision port could effectively look exactly like that.

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Oh, I thought you meant there was a tweaked 2600 version floating around. That one's for the 7800... :dunce:

 

 

Namco... Bandai. Where have I heard that before?

[...]

 

But back to Galaga. It really was a game intended for a next generation console... there's far more onscreen activity than the Atari 2600 can handle. You might be able to fake the large number of enemies with TIA tricks, but it would look and feel severely compromised. Heck, I'm not even satisfied with the Atari 7800 version, which lacks the grace and the crisp resolution of the arcade game. I think the 5200 and the ColecoVision might be able to do Galaga. However, I strongly doubt they would have been any better than the 7800 game, and would probably have been a little worse.

 

BTW, how does the NES version compare to the 7800 version? The NES version is pretty damn close to the arcade aside for various tweaks to convert the game from portrait to landscape mode. I've played both the NES and the Arcade version plenty of times.

Edited by stardust4ever

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