I can’t pretend that I understand the plot of Galacticon – which seems to have been awkwardly translated into English – but to be brutally honest, it makes absolutely no difference whether there’s a plot or not.
You see, Galacticon is a proper homage to old school arcade titles such as Defender and Joust; feeling like a clever hybrid of both of those games. Not only does it have the simple, flashy neon-on-black visual aesthetic of those early 80s classics, but it also goes to great lengths to sound (and play!) just like them too.
In Galacticon, your winged, cybernetic protagonist – looking like one half of Daft Punk if they decided to take up the task of becoming an intergalactic superhero – is tasked with rescuing tiny, cute humans from an onslaught of various enemies and traps designed to mercilessly destroy them. Pick them up, line them up in escape vessels and get the hell out of dodge – that’s Galacticon in a nutshell.
With your character controlling just like the ostrich-esque alien birds in Joust, but armed with lasers a la the ship in Defender and the single screen, wraparound action again seeming to take inspiration from the aforementioned Joust, there’s no secret or grand mystery as to where the roots of Galacticon lie.
Thankfully, it’s more than just a straight homage to those titles; the neat little gameplay touches – such as scoring bonuses for gathering humans in specific colours in each ship – bring fresh ideas to the table without Galacticon losing its satisfying, pick-up-and-play arcade immediacy. Bonus stages also add some variety to the game, so it isn’t always about rescuing daft little humans, as cute as they are.
Another clever touch comes in the form of QR codes that can be scanned in order to upload your high score to a global leaderboard; with the game optimised to run in arcade machines, this type of cross-platform high score competition is incredibly welcome and adds to the nostalgic feel of competing on score alone to prove your mettle against the game. There’s even a cash prize for the high score, which should be a great motivator for those competing at the highest levels! You can check out details of the contest here – it runs until December 2022, so there’s plenty of time to git gud…
Galacticon is a vision of the future, created in the present with one foot in the past – all by a single developer. It’s an absolute blast, created with a clear passion for the arcade-style experiences of yesteryear; it genuinely feels like a newly uncovered, lost relic of the era.
Galacticon is released on Steam on the 20th May 2022 and Nintendo Switch on the 22nd May 2022. Many thanks to Flynn’s Arcade, the published of Galacticon, for providing me with a copy of the game for review purposes.
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