Galaga '88 was the last of the normal Galaga/Galaxian series (it was followed later by Galaxian3 and Attack Of The Zolgear but those were not normal games at all). This Namco title was released in 1987 and was usually sold as a conversion kit.
You shouldn't have too much trouble with this game if you are familiar with the original Galaga (or Galaxian or any other similar game). The game is divided into several "dimensions", which each have their own boss. You can warp to higher levels by collecting warp capsules (they are usually inside the asteroids that litter the later levels). The graphics are several levels above what the original Galaga had, although they have a very "cutesy" look about them, which I happen to like, but not everyone does.
When the game begins you get to choose between having single or dual ships. When you pick dual ships you are docked a life, but you begin the game with the dual ship powerup (which costs a life anyway). I always pick dual ships myself, I find the game more fun that way. After selecting your ship the game will begin.
Enemies will fly into a formation in patterns entering from various places on the screen, if you are fast you can often blast almost all of them before they even settle into the formation. Some enemies do not enter the formation at all, instead they break off at the last moment to make a suicide run at your ship (I usually just dodge these guys, since they don't come back). All the old enemies from the original Galaga are back, along with several new types. The ones you are most likely to notice are the armor plated enemies that can survive multiple shots, and the puffers that get larger and larger each time you shoot them, until they finally explode.
I am sure you remember how the mothership in the original Galaga could capture your ship, and then how you could free it to get double ships. Well this still works, but now the mothership can capture double ships as well. Saving a double ship makes all three ships turn into one large ship that fires three shots at once (this is a very nice ship to have, and it is only about the size of the double ship, so it doesn't leave you prone to attack like the huge fleets you could assemble in GaPlus).
Every few levels there will be a bonus level (called the "Galactic Dancin' Challenge Stage"), where you attempt to shoot down as many as 40 ships for bonus points. These bonus stages are tougher than the original Galaga ones, as the enemies move in some really odd patterns. There is a little secret about the bonus stage also, if you do not touch any of the controls for the duration of the stage, then you will be presented with a 10,000 point mystery bonus. This is a good choice for people who are not very good at the bonus round.
This title was usually sold as a conversion kit (most games were back in 1988). It used the standard JAMMA harness, and required a vertical monitor. The marquee showed a gold "Galaga '88" logo on a field of red teardrops. The sideart had the same picture as the marquee, but without the background. The control panel featured a single 2-Way joystick and a fire button on either side (along with start buttons and game instructions). Many of these machines will have 8-Way joysticks instead of the original 2-Way ones, they are interchangeable as far as this game is concerned.
Where to play
This title was ported very faithfully to the TurboGrafx 16 under the name of Galaga '90. If the Turbografx version is unavailable then you can play the actual arcade version using the MAME emulator. It really is worth the download, as this is one of the best space shooters ever made.
This is a great title to add to your arcade game collection. But it is expensive, boy is it expensive. The JAMMA board alone for this title sells for as much as some entire games (around $250 USD). But don't let the price fool you, this game is worth every penny, it is better than the original Galaga, and still slightly cheaper. This game gives you a lot more bang for your buck than a real Galaga or Galaxian ever would.
If you are interested in putting one of these machines together, then be sure and check out