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Galaxy Force Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

Space shooters, can we ever avoid them? The history of video games was full
of them, so full that, as I’ve always said suck tends to abound. I’m not
sure why the obsession with space in the shooting genre, I suppose because
it’s the only area where you can really make up anything and pretend it’s
reality, whereas in war-based shooters, like 1943, you can’t stray too far
from the facts without looking silly. Then again, when you look at genius
like Power Strike II, you think otherwise. Anyway, Galaxy Force was a space
shooter that originally started out in the arcade. It was quite a wonder for
its time and currently one of the rarest privately owned machines in
existence. This is mainly due to its innovative design, that didn’t fly too
well for storage. It was this large, sphere shaped thing that you sat in
that rotated and swerved as you played the game. A lot of fun, one of Sega’s
best efforts early on. With the Master System in play, of course, they had
to take advantage of all their arcade titles. This was one of them.
“Graphics that will kill you,” says the box. A more proper wording would be
“Game that will kill you.”

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Galaxy Force has some promising graphics, but just doesn’t manage to really
do anything with them. Your ship, most of the enemies and about half of the
backgrounds look good with a wide range of color and superb detail. The
opening planet segments where you lift off are a good example of this.
However, this is marred by graphical slowdown from too many characters
on-screen as well as some pretty lax arrangements. Most of the animations
are choppy aside from your ship, which moves in many different directions.
The levels are a different story. On level one, for example, you’re flying
towards a planet, with no suggestion of this happening. The background is a
steady, dead emptiness with some single-color suggestions of planets and
such. Nothing noteworthy. The other levels are better aside from number
three. Level two is an inferno realm with towering flames coming at you,
asteroids and giant rings of fire. Looks like you’re moving so can’t beat
that after level one.

Level three is a repetitive green area with some
bushes and such, but only the fourth level has any variety with desert-like
creatures and tornadoes flying at you. Other than that it’s generally the
same enemies coming at you all the time and quite a bit of repetition, in
spite of some interesting obstacles. In addition, the inner realm segments
of each level are the same maze aside from which direction you have to move,
with only color changes. I hate that. The explosion sequences for each
planet are pretty interesting and the game over screen actually caught my
attention because it really captures that arcade feel when it moves over to
the left. The ending, as well, is certainly worth it and perhaps the only
replay value in this game. You get to see your pilot in his ship doing what
appears to be masturbating and are treated to stills of all of the
programmers, some of which are jokes. Overall though, due to
some slowdown and flicker, as well as generally mediocre arrangements, the
graphics in Galaxy Force aren’t the best. Could have done much better.

The sound; here’s where the game really goes down the tubes. This is some
of the worst sound I’ve ever heard on the SMS. Now, let me tell you why
because it’s interesting; it’s actually programmed well, but what’s wrong is
that every musical theme aside from the level select bit is wearisome.
Nothing catchy, driving or anything to fit the atmosphere of the game. The
songs are terribly done because they simply sound like nothing and the sound
effects aren’t that much better either. Some of them are fitting, the
explosion sounds in particular, but the bulk of the good ones are recycled
too often and the rest are generally lame. Your bullets sound like a bird
and your missiles sound like someone letting air out of a balloon.
Definitely doesn’t sound to me what I think space weapons would sound like.
Wait a minute, there’s no sound in space. The ending thing was
better than the rest, but that’s because it’s the same theme taken from the
level select segment.

Galaxy Force could have been great and it was in the arcade. However, minus
the cool, spinning thing you sat in, it’s pretty hard to emulate the action
of the original, especially with graphical problems behind it. Essentially,
take After Burner, make it slightly better and put it in space. That’s
generally how this game plays. It’s almost like your ship is traveling down
a cone-shaped area, with everything coming at you diagonally. Hard to
explain, but I think you get the point. There are only four levels in all,
each with only two sections, you have no lives and infinite continues. The
main problems here are thus. First, this game is way too easy. A beginning
player can complete it in the first or second try. The only difficulty
comes from the inner realm sections, but it’s mainly a control issue since
steering away from the walls is very counter-intuitive. You’ll likely
almost die the first time you get to this part. It tells you which
direction to steer, but when you do you’ll find it incredibly awkward until
the “awkward” section of your brain becomes active and deals with the suck.

Second, you have infinite bullets and infinite missiles. Infinite bullets is
fine, you have that in every shooter in existence. But infinite missiles?
You’re giving me infinite of the most powerful weapon in the game? Okay.
In addition, there are no power-ups to speak of, so the whole shooting
concept gets pretty tedious in Galaxy Force after awhile. Not that you need
to fire anyway, unless you really care about points, you can usually steer
far left or right and pretty much avoid everything.

Other than these issues you’ll find the enemies pathetic and way too easy to
avoid. The ones that fire missiles are the only real problem aside from some
of the obstacles, and even then for some reason the “Fourth Empire” decided
to give all of its fighters these basketball-looking missile chains. Then
you have the last boss, “Green Death.” Good one guys, it’s a big ship, and
it’s green. I can only imagine the conversation that came up for naming
that. Too bad it’s Green Easy. The only challenge here is that you can
only get the ending if you beat the game without continuing. That would be
hard if it wasn’t so short, but I won’t reveal that hilarity yet, go to the
game length section for that gem. This could have been a good game, if they
stuck more with the original. I’m not sure why it ported so poorly,
especially since the box claims this is four megs! You have to be kidding,
four megs equals this? I think I’m going to open the cartridge and check.

I suppose Galaxy Force is a fairly creative game. For its time it tried
something new, though Sega did reuse this approach a few times. Regardless,
they did do something interesting with the shooter concept, they just didn’t
do it right. Some of the levels have some very clever features, but this is
marred by too much repetition and recycling of different characters and

This game has replay value for only one reason, the
ending. If you really care about high scores it does have a nice setting
for that and different ways of scoring high, but I don’t know many people
that care about that in the first place. I think the whole scoring business
pretty much was going out when the arcade classics like Burgertime were
being surpassed. If you care about that, I guess that’s here, but for me
the only redeeming feature was the cool ending. Now here’s the best part,
game length. You may be wondering about this already since I mentioned
there’s only four levels, not counting the two-second final boss segment.
You ready for this? This game takes in all no longer than ten minutes to
finish. I’m not kidding, this is a clear winner for one of the shortest
games in history. I really can’t believe how short it is. Of course, this
drops the score because it’s obviously too short.

Galaxy Force is generally a failure. The ending sequence is all it really
has going for it, nothing else in my opinion. It’s such a shame because the
arcade version was superb. Even removing the spinning sphere and with a
whopping four megs to work with, I know they could have done more with this.
For collectors it should be known that the NTSC version tends to be fairly
difficult to locate, not really worth too much effort to find, but if you
see the shiny, silver thing go ahead and grab it for the masturbatory
ending. I think that’s a word.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 3.5
Gameplay: 4
Creativity: 4.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 3
Final: 4.2
Written by Stan Review Guide