Galaxy Express is equal parts ChuChu Rocket and FedEx… in space!
The gameplay of Galaxy Express doesn’t bring anything new to the table really for the puzzle genre. You need to guide your ship from point A to point B by placing arrows on a grid map to make your ship turn or change direction to avoid obstacles. The PC game Rush and the old Sega game ChuChu Rocket instantly spring to mind, and I’m sure there are more like those as well – but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun.
The crux of the game lies in knowing how and why your ship will act when it hits your arrows, in addition to the various obstacles on the map. If the ship flies over one of your placed arrows it will stop and turn on a dime in the direction of the arrow. If your ship comes into contact with an obstacle, be it laser wall or asteroid, your ship will attempt to turn right and keep going. If the ship can’t move that way it’ll turn again and try to move once more, and will do it yet again if necessary to keep forward progression.
For each level you’ll assess the variety of arrows that you’re supplied with in addition to the obstacles placed around the map and figure out how to steer your ship into the planet. Luckily since the game lets you keep resetting, you can kind of piece it together bit by bit, placing a few arrows and seeing how you progress before placing more. This reminded me of the popular iOS puzzle game Trainyard, and is a nice way to work your way through a problem.
The challenge here is derived in the limitation of the arrows you’re given for each level. What they give you constantly varies, and they never give you much more than you need. Oftentimes you’ll have just enough arrows to solve the puzzle, and only really skilled play let’s you find a solution that leaves you with a few left over.
While the basic mechanics here are a bit of a retread, Galaxy Express is still compelling. Not only because the tried and true formula still works, but because of the game’s style. You play a galaxy delivery boy that seems to get talked down to our yelled at by everyone in the universe (especially your boss and your robot assistant). These in-between puzzle conversations mean nothing to the gameplay, but they’re consistently biting and funny and are a fun contrast to the super-cartoony look of the characters.
The puzzles do eventually get devilishly hard, and it’s nice to know that as you progress you’ll unlock more than one at a time, so if you really get stuck on one you’re not jammed up since you can just go onto a different one and then come back.
The only real complaint I have with Galaxy Express is the same one I had with the similar game Rush. Since you’re limited on the amount and type of arrows you get each level, you’re basically forced into one or two possible solutions. So each level is a quest to find the solutions the designers intended. It’s not a deal breaker, but it serves to hinder creative solution finding, and to me that’s a drawback.
It’s hard to argue with the value proposition that Galaxy Express makes. With 120 levels at a budget price, some of them immensely challenging, this is a game that could keep you entertained for awhile. Just be prepared for the abuse that every mailman has to take – galactic or not.