I would have been broke if Galacticon was in the arcades when I was a teen. The game is addictive, well-executed, and much more profound than most arcade-style games. And priced at just $4.99, this game should be in every arcade enthusiast’s library.

Unlike many games in its genre, Galacticon has a background story. Humans have exploited and enslaved many of the other alien races. An interstellar council decided to unleash Galacticon—a half-god, half-machine creature that’s apparently feared by the committee— to stop the humans and free the imprisoned aliens. It’s an interesting twist to play as a feared monstrosity to fight against an evil plaguing the galaxy.

You’re thrown right into the game once it starts. But it’s not too difficult to understand; the action takes place on one screen and looks reminiscent of Joust. Your character can fly, shoot, and pick up red, blue, and white aliens and take them to a safe location. There are three such locations with four spaces in each. Once you fill up each slot, you can move on to the next level. The challenge is strategically placing the aliens into each spot. You get more points by having each safe area filled with the same color alien. Having a set of two in each will still earn you points. However, if you have three red and only one blue (or vice versa), the three that outnumber the solo one will attack it, and you’ll earn no points for that grouping.  

The white aliens are neutral, although they will team up with red or blue if there is an imbalance. For instance, if you have two blues, a red, and a white alien, the white alien will turn blue and attack the red; thus, you’ll lose any points for that grouping. Unfortunately, this scoring system isn’t explained until you make it past the first level, which is the only real issue I have with Galacticon. 

You can also earn more points by delivering several aliens to the safe zones simultaneously. This can be tricky, though. If an enemy hits one of the aliens you’re carrying, the alien is gone, and you’ll need to collect a new one. In addition, there is a score bonus for how little time you spend on the level, so you’ll want to work as quickly as possible if you want to earn the best score. 

After you have collected twelve aliens, you’re instructed to continue up. There is a stage between your ship and the level you just beat. This bonus stage can utilize various things, like asteroids, enemy ships, and bombs. Each bonus level has an objective that, if done correctly, will earn you the bonus points. You learn about each goal via a QR code after completing a run. Scanning the QR code takes you to a website where you unlock the objectives. You’ll need to continue to do more runs to unlock additional information around different objectives. The QR code is also used for logging your high score on a world-wide leader board. 

As you continue through your run, each level gets more challenging. There are power-ups you can find that will help you, including extra lives. The game also boasts a local leaderboard that doesn’t require you to go to a website to see.