Genre: Shoot ’em up
Release Date: 01/03/2013
The simplistic nature of shooters has always drawn me in and I’m glad to see the genre has mostly remained unchanged throughout the years. With access to so many free and low-cost digital games, such a simplistic genre can be satisfying on the cheap. The Nintendo eShop has been host to a number of such satisfying titles and Galaxy Saver can be added to that list.
The game’s story is similar to many other simple eShop titles in emulating the classic NES-style storytelling, where the instruction booklet bares it all and players just play the game. Most shooter fans are more interested in hammering on the fire button than keeping tabs on characters and stories, so the story isn’t a huge factor in Galaxy Saver. By accessing the game’s menu, those who are truly interested can read up on the background if they choose.
The game does offer multiple modes, but each is only a slight variation on the game’s core mechanic. Players can tackle an arcade mode full of selectable stages, completed stages can be accessed in a challenge mode for score attack purposes, a survival mode launches players into arcade mode but their shields won’t replenish in between stages, and a wireless mode allows two players to tackle the missions.
When you break it down, you’re essentially only paying 50 cents per game mode, which isn’t too bad of a deal even if the modes hardly differ from each other. On top of the modes, there are a handful of unlocks and a list of accomplishments to tackle, so, for only $2, there is a fair helping of content available.
The meat of the gameplay takes a slightly different approach, with players only being able to rotate around a mothership, protecting it from 360 degrees of enemy waves. Players can fire away, activate a shield that blocks enemy fire, and activate a limited-use bomb when the going gets really tough. The mothership has its own shield that absorbs enemy fire, but it can only take so much before it is destroyed. Each level has players fending off an attack while the mothership builds its energy to hit hyperdrive and get away from danger. While most stages have enemy ships of various types swooping in a la Galaga or such, other stages have players breaking up asteroids or tackling large boss ships.
I never had any issues with the controls of the game, which doesn’t force in any touch controls. Between the d-pad and three buttons, the game controlled great. The game has three branching paths of varying difficulty, giving players a means to ease into what the game has to offer. An actual playthrough might only take 10 minutes of time, but Galaxy Saver is clearly a game intended to be played through multiple times.
Most of this hinges on the difficulty of the title. With 360 degrees of a mothership to protect, the situation gets hairy fairly often and the game isn’t shy about pelting the player with obstacles. In arcade mode, sticking to the top of the stage branching keeps players in the easier levels, while gravitating toward the bottom spikes the difficulty up. My biggest gripe about the game comes from the grind required to stand up to the difficulty.
Through the game, players build up rank points, which essentially act as experience points. Leveling ranks up the player to a higher accolade. Ranking up unveils some of the game’s unlockables, which comes as CPU-controlled ally ships that fight along with the player. Unfortunately, the first unlock doesn’t even come into play until after the player progresses through more than half of the ranks. Unable to stand up to the higher levels, I found myself slogging through easy levels to quickly build rank points to make progress.
Once I finally hit that point, though, the rest of the game seemed to snowball. The boost from having an ally was a huge help in scoring higher and tackling harder stages. By the time I had two allies, I could clear the game in its entirety, including the boss rush that unlocked the second ship. It almost seemed as if the game didn’t even begin until I smashed through that roadblock.
I think the game could have greatly benefitted from clearer goals in the unlocks or less strict requirements, but in the end the challenge was fun and, ultimately, rewarding. Perhaps the encouragement is to find a second player to play with, but I just didn’t have that option. The second ship boosts the player’s power considerably, giving the player a little feeling of payback against the enemies on top of the extra firepower from allies. However, going back to the unclear requirements, searching online, it seems no one has yet to figure out how to unlock the third ship. Hopefully it keeps people playing this surprisingly fun title, but it just again shows how unclear the progression can be.
In a $2 game, I usually don’t expect much from presentation, but Galaxy Saver nails down a retro look while having a small bit of polish to it. The ship design is typical of the genre and the enemy fire is sharp enough to contrast against the background. The top screen is put to good use as the radar is vital in your defense of the mothership. The sound and music isn’t overwhelming or amazing, but it fills in the presentation nicely to create a respectable package.
Short Attention Span Summary
Galaxy Saver is a satisfying $2 purchase if you’re willing to stick to it and play it repeatedly as intended. While the game isn’t straightforward about its progression, dedication to it will provide a challenge and rewards that enhance the experience. While the game modes only differ slightly, it is evident at least a little bit of effort was put into the title to keep players coming back. For what it offers, Galaxy Saver is a solid shooter and a good buy on the cheap for shooter fans.