Originally released in 1984 as a direct sequel to the arcade classic Galaga, Namco’s Gaplus sought to improve upon its predecessor in nearly every way imaginable. Faster gameplay, more enemies, a variety of powerups, Gaplus had everything a space shooter fan could want.
The absolutely beautiful cabinet was what drew me to the game in the first place. A very vibrant color scheme mixed with near flawless detailing made this cabinet stand out among the other retro games in the arcade. The marquee is large and the attract mode that plays entices you to drop a quarter, no questions asked.
Aside from being a bit faster, Gaplus also allowed you to move your ship horizontally and vertically, a first for the series. You can grab an extra ship like you could in Galaga, but now you can also get powerups that allow you to capture enemy ships, get extra firepower, and even turn enemy shots into harmless projectiles! I actually didn’t get this far (and wasn’t nearly good enough), but apparently these powerups stack if you can successfully defeat a level without losing one you’ve already collected.
Fun fact: The game was released as Gaplus, but was also promoted (and later given a cabinet conversion kit) as Galaga 3. This is kind of interesting, because there wasn’t a “Galaga 2”. Rather, Galaga is actually a sequel to the original Namco space shooter Galaxian. So in this sense, the series should really be Galaxian, Galaxian 2: Galaga, and Galaxian 3: Galaga 2.
Or just three totally different names. That works too.
*Played at California Extreme in Santa Clara, CA – 2018