Its hard not to be excited about the successor to Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. Namco Bandais futuristic rethink of the classic pill-popping arcade title was a triumph in almost every regard; re-mastering Pac-Mans archaic formula into a faster, more dazzling experience.
Galaga Legions DX attempts to capture the same excitement as Pac-Man Championship Edition DX by overhauling Namco Bandais classic coin-op shooter franchise. Unlike Pac-Man, Galaga Legions DX has gone through a few more tweaks than its CE predecessor. Loosely derived from Galaga 3, Legions DX offers full control over your space-craft, rather than limiting you to the bottom axis of the screen.
This becomes a necessary addition as Legions DX bombards you with unusual enemy attack patterns. The crux of Galaga remains the same housed within the confines of a single-screen layout you must quell the threat of invading space insects by blasting them with your space-crafts on-board proto-cannon. As previously alluded, the attack patterns and enemy formations are much more exotic than in previous Galaga games, depicted by coloured swirls and bright neon boxes. Like Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, the presentation is eye-wateringly exuberant, sometimes replacing actual gameplay depth with fancy flashes of colour.
But while simplistic, the core of Legions DX is still enjoyable. The actions frantic and tense, regularly leaning on the slow-down tactics used when ghost gobbling in Pac-Man CE DX to add weight and impact to each of your shots.
While clearing out the enemy insects is your primary aim, Legions DX introduces an almost puzzle-like dynamic in which it requires you to obliterate mini-bosses in order to cause a chain reaction and clear the waves of foes. As such, the game uses grunts as cannon fodder in front of your main target. Each wave is timed, with several waves occupying each stage. If you beat all of the waves before the time quota is fulfilled, youll earn additional time in the points-heavy concluding stage. In this final stage youll convert an army of foes to fight for your cause, enhancing your fire-power and turning your space-craft into an over-powered war machine.
Here the game introduces some elements of risk-and-reward. While clearing waves quickly requires you to go directly for the mini-bosses, this doesnt always represent the optimum route for points (points from chain-reactions are halved). However, by finishing the waves quickly you do guarantee yourself additional time in the fifth stage, allowing you to accumulate points rapidly.
You have two on-board weapon types a straight-forward laser beam thats capable of firing in 360-degrees, and a split-beam thats great for crowd control. Both types are required to stave off the games enemy forces and achieve a high grade.
The problem with Legions DX is that too much emphasis is placed on pattern memorisation. Because the stages are single-screen affairs with finite end-points, conquering the leaderboards will require you to remember the layout of each wave of enemies on their respective stage. This isnt a problem per se, but it leads to repetition. The issue is emphasised by the manner in which Namco recycles content across the games various game-modes time-attack for example is a hugely familiar affair.
The presentation is fantastic, with rich, vibrant colours layered on top of pulsating visualisers all syncopated in time to the games four-to-the-floor throwback score. It runs brilliantly too, filling the screen with sprites and activity without dropping a frame.
But despite the execution of the production and the genuinely enjoyable nature of the gameplay, Legions DX doesnt quite manage to live up to the standards of its re-mastered predecessor. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX transformed a good game into something phenomenal, while Legions DX merely settles for great. When removed from the shadow of its sibling its an excellent PlayStation Network shooter for sure; but Namcos trained us to expect that little bit more.