Galaxian is a game so underrated that it’s almost impossible for me to walk past a Space Invaders machine without throwing it a dirty look and shake of the finger. Galaxian is a masterpiece adrift in a sea of mediocrity, and far too much of its hard earned historical thunder has been stolen by Taito’s original coin guzzler.
Picture the scene. It’s 1979 and you wander into a dark, smoky and noisy arcade at whichever seaside retreat your parents could afford to take you to (for myself, and 86 per cent of Britain, it was Blackpool).
Amid the mechanical grabbers, pinball tables and various gaming cabinets one machine stands proud. Its continually scrolling, hypnotising star field draws you in closer and closer, and before you know it your 10p is already in the slot. This game has an identity of its own and you wonder whether you have fallen into some Tron-like parallel universe (or it would have, if Tron had been released at this point).
While you happily ready yourself for a full colour version of Space Invaders, something happens that takes your breath away: The beautifully drawn aliens have a mind of their own, insolently and dangerously breaking ranks. They’re on your tail, hell bent on your destruction and the enslavement of your race. Your three lives are over quickly, but the impact on your life made by this wonderful game isn’t. In a hundred years, when the History Channel is reviewing your life and the heroic struggles you faced in becoming the greatest Starfighter pilot in the known galaxy, it will trace your rise to infamy back to this single moment on a day trip to the west coast of England.
Or at least that’s what I thought, when I was 9.