Defunct Games
31 Bonus Levels of Christmas

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 31 of the best-known bonus stages in all of video games. Each day we're going to look at a different level and review it, while also trying to figure out what makes it tick. Join us as we post a new episode of the 31 Bonus Levels of Christmas every day leading up to the biggest holiday of the year!
Galaga: Formation Flyers
[ Console: Arcade | Year: 1981 | Grade: C+ ]

The most exciting moment of 1981!
The Context: Galaga is one of the most recognizable old school shooters, right up there with Space Invaders and Xevious. In this game you take down swarms of alien bugs who, like the British army in the 1700s, line up in formation to take you on. And just like the Revolutionary War, this gives the lone pilot a fighting chance. For whatever reason, the colorful alien bugs only pull out their best tactical moves in the game's numerous bonus stages. If they knew how to pull off daring loops and other fancy maneuvers, why not change tactics when they realized that lining up wasn't working out? It's one of those great mysteries we'll never know the answer to.

The Rules: Swarms of colorful alien bugs fly in formation around the screen, hoping to avoid you gun fire. If you are

You can tell this isn't a bonus level by looking at the way the enemies are stacked one by one!
good, you'll be able to hit every last one and receive a huge point bonus. There's no fear of dying, since none of these alien creatures use weapons or fly close enough to your ship. In total there are eight different bonus stages, each with different formation patterns and enemies to shoot down. Complete these missions and you could win up to 32,000 additional points.

The Verdict: While fun, these stages work to highlight how crummy the alien's defenses actually

When Bandai picked up the rights to Galaga, they decided to give it a hyperbolic subtitle!
are. Perhaps I'm putting too much thought into it; I tend to do that while fighting an alien invasion all by myself. Instead of focusing on my work, I invent backstories and an entire mythology around these nameless characters. In Galaga I'm a daring goat herder who enlisted in the space marines after his beautiful wife was killed by evil alien robot infected with the T-Virus. I team up with a random time traveling monkey set out to avenge my wife's death and save the world from food poisoning. When will that game get made?

Completely Missing the Point: There is something kind of sadistic about the Galaga bonus stage. While I understand that we're in the middle of a war with colorful alien insects, the creatures in the bonus stages don't appear to be any real threat to our hero. They don't shoot or get in the way; they just dance around in formation. If anything these are the pacifist alien insects, and I feel a little guilty for trading their life for points. On the other hand, there's nothing better than putting your initials on the leader board (assuming your initials are "ASS").
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