for Amstrad CPC

Company: GGP
Year: 2024
Genre: Action
Theme: Science Fiction
Language: English
Licence: Freeware
Views: 669
Review by LostInSpace (2024-05-14)

The demands placed on commercial games today – just like 30 years ago – leave developers little space for experimentation and deviation from the established norm. On the outdated level of early home computers, however, games can now be produced by anyone with powerful tools (AGD / ShmupDevkit Lolpop) and lesser effort in comparison. Limited creativity on terms of marketing and business competition ends where just the voices of the community count.

As the name suggests, Galastrad is a shooter for the Amstrad CPC inspired by the well-known game Galaga. A first look at the pixel art (overscan) images of the intro, which have been worked out to perfection, show the splendour of colour that the old CPC is capable of. Together with the chiptune, you feel like you're watching a demo. The generic, meaningless story is a homage to the countless background stories that have always been invented for such shooters. That's just part of it.

Admittedly, after this bombastic introduction, expectations for the actual game are pretty high. And yes, the first attempts were sobering. The single screen with the simple pixel-stars and violet borders are not exactly thrilling. The attacks of the enemy flight formations come in small – relatively difficult to see – dark blue projectiles. The extremely fast gameplay wipes my little spaceship off the screen 3 times in less than a minute: Game Over. Similar to Galaga, the colourful enemies behave differently from wave to wave.

One unusual feature is the flight behaviour of the small glider: although it sticks to the lower edge of the screen – as in Galaga – it can be moved up to maximal two third of the screen by thrusting. Only in this ascent phase right-left navigation is possible. So without moving up there is no way to sidestep. Fortunately, the controls can be freely configured and the combination of thrust and firing proved to be the ideal solution for me: the spaceship remains controllable while you are firing and the constant descent is seamlessly integrated into the gameplay.

Just keeping the distance

Certain enemy constellations are not worked-out very well, because they can be just ignored. This is because the spaceship can simply be kept stable at a certain point without taking any damage. By continuously firing at the fixed entry points of certain formations, entire waves can also be wiped out without much action. However, the unpredictability of the shots, which are fired from a flying formation striking completely unprepared, and their scattering, are well done in the sense of being challenging. Of course, Galaga offers much more fanciful attack patterns and more varied enemy types in comparison, and the extras and special weapons keep you motivated in the long run.

But that's not really the developers' intention. And the tweak in the controls gives this shooter, which has been reduced to the basics, exactly the flavour that would have put off many customers in a commercial version. Anyone who wants to try out the game should therefore not aim to complete all 25 more or less similar waves, but simply have a few minutes of fun with it.

Comments (1) [Post comment]

Mr Creosote:
Here is our attempt to be totally up-to-date. Galastrad has been out for only few days. To be on top of recent development, we even shifted our regular schedule. Good thing that you're subscribed to our RSS feed, so you've caught this unusual Tuesday addition!