Galactic Attack

Galactic Attack
3.5
Game Name: Galactic Attack
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): Acclaim
Developer(s): Taito
Genre(s): Vertical Shooter
Release Date: September 1995
Serial Number: T-8116H-50
Region: PAL

Sega Saturn Galactic Attack MenuThe 2D shoot-em-up (or shmup) is a funny old genre.
It has by all accounts been a dead genre for ages, but releases keep leaking out and even today, old Sega Saturn shmups can command prices not far off the latest current gen titles sitting on the shelves of game shops.

It comes to me as a pleasant surprise then that one of the best shmups available for the Saturn not only got a PAL release, but is pretty easy on the wallet too.

Galactic Attack (aka Layer Section aka Rayforce) is a good old fashioned 2D vertical shmup, the description of which initially doesn’t read too well when you are looking for certain features – perhaps resulting in people passing this one over.

You have only 2 weapons – similar to the scheme in the old shooter Xevious – one weapon hits enemies in the air and one hits those targets and enemies below you and/or on the ground.

Galactic Attack Screenshot Sega SaturnThis second attack has a lock-on feature – if you move your sight over targets you get a lock on and they are taken out when you fire the second weapon.
The more lock-ons you have at any one time (up to 8), the more points you score.

There are no energy bars – one hit and you are dead – and your collision box is the same size as your craft – no scrape bonuses here.

There are run-of-the-mill power-ups that increase the firepower of your weapons and the number of lock-ons you can have but that is about it.

What has been left out in my description so far is what impresses however – this is a classic shmup.

The graphics and sounds are wonderful – big bold detailed 2D sprite-based enemies and lovely backgrounds race by – sometimes augmented with scaling effects.

The visuals are accompanied by excellent spot effects and background music. Control is flawless too – the Saturn pad delivering an experience whereby it melts into your hand.

Galactic Attack ScreenshotThe level design is the star of the show – all feel unique and none feel like a chore to play – something that can happen with shmups which are designed to be replayed over and over again, and, given the genre’s propensity to have relatively small numbers of levels, is the only way to really get gameplay value.

Like many vertical shmups, Galactic Attack is meant to be played on a vertically aligned screen and indeed a TATE mode is included for those who have such a setup – be it via rotating an image through a projector, have a handy-dandy rotating TV/monitor mounting, or by being brave enough to rotate their TV.

You can also opt to play this in a kind of horizontal shooter hybrid mode – where the image is rotated and the controls are changed allowing you to press up and down on the d-pad instead of left and right.

You can of course play it scaled to fit a domestic TV – the default way of playing these games, and the shoulder buttons then toggle the HUD which lets you see more. Playing it this way is pretty good and its the way I normally play it. You really are better off with a good old 4:3 TV though which would be better than messing around with a 16:9 TV’s “zoom” settings.

Galactic Attack Screen ShotThe game looks great in the default mode but it looks even better in its native resolution shown in TATE mode and the odd game played in “ghetto TATE” mode (lying on your side!) shows the graphics off at their best – not recommended for long sessions though!

The game is framed with a nice intro and game over screens, high scores are saved, and the usual options for difficulty, credits etc. are all there.

2 players are supported simultaneously – a mode in which its hard not to have fun.

Even on the easy setting, this game is tough and might frustrate beginners but this is a great shooting game and comes highly recommended. This is one of the few games that actually has 2 reviews at www.shmups.com which says a lot about how much it is though of. (see those reviews for more details on the subtle gameplay features this game has for the hardcore).

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