Galaxy Force (SMS)

Galaxy Force Box Art

Galaxy Force

System: SMS

Release Date: October 1989

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Activision

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

Shoot ’em ups may be ubiquitous with video games, but Sega really liked behind the back vantage points as seen here in Galaxy Force. The problem is that even though the arcade boards could handle them, the Master System could not. You’re going to have to chug through four planets of action in order to drive off the evil Fourth Empire from the galaxy.

Your ship is equipped with machine guns and missiles. Ammo is unlimited and the guns can be fired rapidly by holding down Button 1. Missiles can be fired by pressing Button 2 and when you see a target lock, you’re guaranteed a hit. Otherwise, you can just blast away and they’ll seek toward something, typically off screen.

Each planet has two stages, an exterior and interior. The exterior tasks you with staying alive long enough to make your way to the interior portion. Along the way, you’ll have to avoid destroyable obstacles while you shoot at enemies flying on screen. Some enemies will also shoot heat seeking missiles that you’ll have to avoid. Your ship comes equipped with a shield that steadily depletes when hit. The color shifts from white and blue when the shield is full, down to red and black when you’re close to death. Getting hit by enemy missiles hurts a lot more than running into an obstacle.

When you finally make it to the interior portion of a planet, you have to be worried for a new reason. Instead of wide open spaces, you’re in a cramped, winding corridor. Missile launchers are strategically placed on the ceiling and floor of the halls. When you’re about to face a turn, you’re given the direction and must navigate through without hitting the walls enough to explode. You’ll hit the walls a lot until you get how much you need to compensate down to a science.

When you finish the interior section, you head to the score screen where you earn points for killing enemies and the amount of shield you have left. After finishing all four planets, you’re thrust into a battle with the final boss. He wasn’t much of a challenge, but I was then chastised by the ending screen for using continues and promised a great reward if I could get through in one life. No thanks.

Graphics: 1.5

The back of the box advertises that these graphics will kill you. The low frame rate and sprite flickering will indeed lead to your death more than you’d like.

Sound: 1.5

Nothing in the audio realm of Galaxy Force impressed me. The music wasn’t terrible, but the sound effects were kind of annoying.

Gameplay: 1.0

You’re just flying around holding your machine gun button down, hoping you live long enough to move forward.

Difficulty: 1.0

The low frame rate and flickering on missiles will cause many deaths. It’s otherwise a fifteen minute game.

Fun Factor: 0.5

This isn’t a fun game.

Overall Grade: 1.1

Galaxy Force earns a D. It’s a step backward from After Burner. Don’t bother.