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5 stars
33 (16%)
4 stars
49 (23%)
3 stars
55 (26%)
2 stars
48 (23%)
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21 (10%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Ken.
142 reviews16 followers
January 26, 2015
Galaga is divided into 255 paragraphs that have little to no relation to each other. Maybe if every third paragraph were collected, there would be a narrative here, but instead, the author tries to maintain three concurrent but separate threads, jumping between them at a whim. It's lazy writing that makes no connections and no transitions, aimed at someone whose attention can't be kept longer than a paragraph.

The worst part was the times Kimball would dedicate a paragraph to an interesting fact about Galaga, then three pages later, devote another paragraph to confessing he made it all up. I've never seen an author hate his readers so much as to compulsorily lie to them. The third time this happened in 45 pages, I quit.

I've received all four Boss Fight Books via Kickstarter to date, have read three of them, and have found two of them intolerable. I've never been so disappointed to have backed a campaign.
Profile Image for Joseph Michael Owens.
Author 1 book56 followers
June 28, 2014
Kimball is an incredibly talented author and his approach to writing Galaga is fantastic. The book is broken up into stages mimicking the stages of the game with varying degrees of detail. Mixing accounts from his past, both w/r/t the game and his personal life make the book seriously engaging even for readers not as obsessed with Galaga as Kimball. Such a great read!

Every single book is this series has been so fantastic. I've already read EarthBound, Chrono Trigger, and now Galaga. Each one has had it's own style and draw; none of them read like a boring encyclopedia. These books are alive with the memories and emotions of their authors. Boss Fight has done a truly tremendous job picking the perfect writers for these games. They're really done the justice they deserve. I hope Boss Fight never stops doing this series!

--review written on an iPhone 5--
Profile Image for Peter Derk.
Author 25 books353 followers
November 28, 2014
Michael Kimball is great. Let's just get that out of the way.

He uses a really strange device in this book. The book is broken up into really short sections, and then each section will say something about Galaga. Sometimes the section will say something, maybe about a piece of fan art or a Galaga mod, and then a couple sections later Kimball will say, "That thing I said a couple sections back? That's not real. But I just thought it would be cool."

A few reviewers found it annoying, but I have to say, it really brought me back to a different era of gaming.

Pre-Internet, gaming was hard and confusing as hell. And half of the things you heard about games was third-hand, at best. Your friend's cousin who lives in Canada discovered a secret password in Metroid. There's a kid who's three grades ahead in school, and his brother beat Mario Bros. 10 times in a row and got the REAL ending. Hidden levels, hidden characters, all that stuff was so interesting because it felt like you weren't supposed to know.

The thrill of walking on the ceiling in the first Mario castle, of finding the Warp Zone where text filled the screen. It was definitely a secret. There weren't other places where white text explained what the hell was going on. You found it, used it, and then you were part of this secret club.

Games were packed with that stuff, and as an adult I can see that on some level, you were supposed to find it. Nobody would bother to code a warp zone into a game that they hoped people would never find. Right?

I think what Kimball's book did is take me back to that place. A place that doesn't exist anymore. Where you would watch older guys at the arcade play games and say, "Wait...what the fuck? How did he do that?" Or you'd read a Mortal Kombat III strategy guide and desperately try to memorize the finishing moves before the store clerk reminded you of the game store's status as a library. Currently: Not A.

In some ways, I wonder if video game culture has really suffered in the current age. Now, games are so easy to get. And easy not to get, easy to check out pretty thoroughly before you buy. Which is good for the consumer, but goddamn does it take away some of the mystery. The excitement of picking up a cartridge at Blockbuster and hoping that Green Dog is going to provide you a great weekend of gaming. That's gone. The thing where you go to a friend's house and see Zelda for the first time and think, "Holy shit. I need to preserve this friendship so I can play this game for the rest of my life."

I also wonder if some of the disrespectful shit in the gaming world, if a good deal of that comes from the fact that you're saying something to someone you will never actually meet. It's so different to call someone "fag" in real life than it is on Xbox Live. Especially as a dummy 12 year-old. I was always a little scared of the older kids at the arcade, even though they never gave me reason to be. And girls in the arcade? I always thought that was great! I mean, I was too shy to ever approach a girl. If you think I was scared of the older boys, jesus, that was nothing compared to girl paralysis. But when we were all at the arcade together in real life, I felt like just entering the storefront, just crossing into that part of the mall was all the cred someone needed. If a girl came into the arcade, then she was as much a gamer as anyone. If a girl beat me at Mortal Kombat III and DID know the finishing moves, I was just happy to actually see a finishing move. If a girl wanted to play X-Men with me, that was fantastic. Unless she really wanted to be Colossus. Then we'd have a problem because Colossus was my guy.

At this point I feel like I'm just being Old Man Pete and complaining about the internet. It's not all bad. The access to so much is great, and I think the advent of the more homemade games, the garage band feel of the indie game scene is the best. In some ways the modern age has leveled things. Regular people can make games. It doesn't take a huge studio for someone to make something anymore.

But I miss the past. NEStalgia, as they say.

Just to add on a little something, there are a few video game rumors out there that I think are really fun:

Here's what's great: The Justin Bailey password may actually BE a fluke as opposed to a purposeful thing. A very weird fluke in Metroid's password system.

Here's a great bit of storytelling about a haunted Zelda cartridge:

Polybius: the game that made people insane:

Profile Image for Andrew.
25 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2017
The Boss Fight Book series is always interesting even if every release doesn't strike your fancy. Galaga by Michael Kimball is a unique look at the game through the author's life. Instead of chapters though the author has chosen to break the book down into stages. Like Galaga itself, each stage is short and to the point, and also like Galaga there are 255 of them before the book begins again much like the arcade game. The author does a great job of telling his life story and relationship with the game through those stages. Overall this was a good short read that showcased the history of the game and the history of the author.
94 reviews
May 2, 2022
Odd but given an extra * as it’s pretty short. Author makes interesting facts which they then say “oh I made that bit up” a few pages later. This happens quite a few times and is super annoying. But other than that a decent quick read.
Profile Image for Robbie.
13 reviews
March 16, 2021
I loved this. This was my first Boss Fight book so I had no idea what to expect but I Iove Galaga and I was wondering how you could write about a game that doesn't have a boss in the typical sense. A fun mix of Galaga strategy, trivia, and personal narrative woven together in an almost stream of consciousness experience. A big surprise as I got about halfway through is that I found myself wanting to find out where the narrative was going next.
Profile Image for Tommy Prast.
44 reviews
June 6, 2018
fun to read, but not as in depth or thematically interesting as others in the series

what's good about it is this- he keeps referencing the different types of Galaga products available
These range from the expected to the absurd

Point of this is galaga, maybe more than any other arcade game besides pac-man, has become part of the conversation when anyone mentions an "arcade game"

It's 80s arcade style at its most diluted and brilliant form

But there's not much more to know about it- just personal anecdotes of how important games like this were for children socially in the 80s and how it helped the author overcome his childhood. Certainly interesting, but not really informative- didn't learn much about galaga I didn't already know
It's fun if you're reaaaallllly into galaga- otherwise not much here 4 u
4 reviews
June 17, 2020
You can tell that the early boss fight books were still trying to figure out their angle for how these projects would go. Case in point is this book which is horribly disjointed and disorganized.

The author has split up each “chapter” into random sections with no real order. Some chapters are a paragraph or less. Other chapters will disclose that a previous chapter was a lie, completely made up. If the author is willing to lie multiple times (to be funny I guess?) then that makes me distrust the rest of this book.

To top it all off, every few chapters is a chapter that describes how the author was abused by his brother and father. How that relates to Galaga, I don’t know.

It would have been a better read if it flowed together and had connected better with the arcade game, if it is true at all.
104 reviews
July 30, 2014
I wish I could give half stars, this is easily a four-and-a-half star book.

My brother turned over the Galaga machine (million points!) at the Putt Putt Golf and Games in Lansing, so picking up this book was an instant nostalgia trip on a couple of levels.

I got into Galaga because he loved to play it, and it was great to feel that sense of love from this book, too. I thought the author's study of his difficult experiences growing up complimented his exploration of what Galaga meant to him and gave the book a lot of nuance and complexity.

If this is what the genre of video game lit has to offer, I am excited for more.
Profile Image for Caleb Ross.
Author 38 books188 followers
March 25, 2018
(click the image below to watch the video review)

Galaga book review

This story of Galaga, the book by Michael Kimball, is a personal one, moreso than any other Boss Fight Books release I’ve read and reviewed so far. And it’s not just the books theme that’s personal–that theme being one of the author’s childhood abuse and teenage awkwardness where solace was found in shopping mall arcades playing Galaga–but the very format of the book evokes personality. Rather than the traditional chapter-based overt, linear narrative, Michael Kimball gives us a series of short bursts of prose that hint at narrative.

“You can buy a Galaga money clip. You can buy a wood burn of the Galaga double fighters with a heart between them. You can buy a Galaga dog sweater.” (pg 86)

For example, one section may list a bunch of Galaga-inspired merchandise items–ranging from t-shirts to wedding cakes–with the immediate next section describing the author’s abusive childhood.

"One time, my dad grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me until my head went blank, a kind of tilt. It wasn’t until later that night, lying in bed, that by brain rebooted and I understood what had happened." (pg 18)

Think of jump cuts in a movie and how they cause the viewer to quickly re-invest, the brain has to wake up to figure out what just happened. Why were we watching someone talk about a book and now we’re looking at an image of that book. Something changed. Our brain has to figure it out. As oft-media viewers we’re used to jump cuts that are thematically related–talking about book to shot of book–but when the clips being cut between are drastically different–abusive childhood to list of video game facts–we have to work a bit harder to find the narrative.

“You can buy Galaga t-shirts with a variety of sayings on them. For instance, you can buy a Galaga t-shirt with the double fighters on it and “BFF” written under it. There is also a tote bag version and a coffee mug version of this.” (pg 58)

The way Galaga by Michael Kimball juxtaposes benign merchandise with physical abuse reduces the import of the abuse. This projects a flat affect in the author’s personality which heightens the role Galaga played in his life. In other words, while emotional expressiveness may have been beaten out of author when he was a child, Galaga became a way for him to control something, to understand that while his relationship with is father might not make sense, there are things in this world that can make sense. Namely: Galaga.

This intentionally disjointed approach is more work for the reader, but perhaps more satisfying as well. Functionally, short sections also act as relief valves. A reader would get exhausted reading full pages of lists. But seeing the white space on the page between sections taps into the same part of the brain that rationalizes the “just one more episode” thought process that justifies binge-watching a Netflix series.

“I checked with a cidada expert who said the Boss Galagas are definitely not cicadas. She didn’t think they were birds either. Another possibility is that the Boss Galagas are giant flies. An entomologist didn’t rule out that possibility.” (pg 4)

With Galaga, book and author are inextricably linked. (aside: I’d argue that book and author are always inextricably linked–an argument I’ve made in previous videos–but with Galaga, the argument is easier to make). The details Kimball chooses to highlight speak to the mind behind the words. Nothing is properly sourced (indicating that mentioning the detail is more important than the detail itself), Kimball admits often to lying about various Galaga “facts,” and considering the personal stories are treated with the same reverence as the benign lists of Galaga products and song references, the choice to be emotionally subdued is a commentary against emotion. That’s a very intentional choice.

And here’s where my only real criticism comes in. I anticipated the larger theme resolving into something a bit more overt. Multiple lists of Galaga merchandise, multiple mentions of fake Galaga hacks, multiple examples of Galaga in song lyrics should culminate into something, especially considering the book relies so heavily on those emotional content decisions I mentioned earlier. But the book is missing this closure.

I was hoping these disparate lists would speak to something, perhaps a final page diagnosis of OCD or the revelation that Kimball has filled his home with all of these products he mentions throughout. In other words, give the reader a reason why all of these lists are so important. If the simple reason is that the author needs structure and control as a response to his childhood abuse, well, that was apparent on page 17 when immediately following the first mention of abuse we’re given a few lines of ad copy from an early Galaga marketing campaign.

But ultimately, the book’s brevity allows forgiveness. It’s a short enough book to be interesting without necessarily needing overt closure. The book is really interesting and definitely worth a read if you enjoy Galaga or unique methods of storytelling.
Profile Image for Christopher.
36 reviews2 followers
July 3, 2014
What a fun read! Kimball beautifully describes the wonder of Galaga and its importance to his life. Galaga has always been one of my favorite games (Galaxian as well, way back on the Apple IIe), so I had high expectations. My expectations were destroyed like a single fighter trapped in the corner. Buy this book. Read this book. Love this book. GALAGA!
Profile Image for jim.
121 reviews9 followers
July 16, 2014
This is probably my favorite book of 2014. Kimball and I both grew up while using video games as escapes, and reading the history of one of those beloved games interspersed with a similar (though not the same, of course) upbringing really couldn't have grabbed me more. I'm so glad I kickstarted this!
Profile Image for Derrick KC.
1 review9 followers
July 7, 2014
Fantastically balances obsessive minutia about a hugely influential arcade game with memoir elements about child abuse and desperately trying to find a safe place to call your own. An absolute page-turner and hugely relatable for anybody who felt like an out-of-place kid in need of an outlet.
Profile Image for Colin Packenham.
41 reviews
December 29, 2014
This might actually be one of my favorite small books I have read. Very introspective, and weirdly intimate.
Profile Image for Glen Engel-Cox.
Author 4 books54 followers
February 22, 2023
Unlike the previous three books in the Boss Fight series, I had played this game. Not as much as the author, but it was one of the arcade games that I could be somewhat decent at, much better than I was at its contemporary, Defender. Galaga was an update to Space Invaders, where the aliens swooped in to the screen from the sides and bottom rather than simply appearing at the top. You could zap them with your fighter as they did so, and part of the game was memorizing where they would enter so you could position your fighter in the best spot to clear them. The other innovation in Galaga was the ability to get double fighters—but only if you let the aliens capture your fighter. Woe to the player who lets their fighter get captured without having an extra in reserve!

I likely never got as good as Michael Kimball at Galaga because I wasn’t willing to put the time into memorizing the entry patterns, something players often did with these arcade games that were programmed to always be the same if you always did the same. I have a good memory, but rather than patterns, I preferred to fill it with lines from the plays I performed in or music trivia. I played arcade games because they helped me escape, for a quarter at a time, my troubles. I suppose it was better than drinking my troubles away, which is another use I could have put my quarters to. As Kimball describes, it was the same for him, but his troubles were magnitudes worse than mine, and perhaps that’s what fueled his ability to get the high scores on Galaga and other machines.

This book is ripe with nostalgia for a certain time period when the arcade (at the mall or a freestanding shop) was king, roughly the early 80s. Before Atari, Mattel, Nintendo, and Playstation came along and we all started playing games on our TV screens. I occasionally miss the arcade, with each machine dedicated to just one game, especially those with unique controls, like the double joystick mechanism of Crazy Climber or the trackball of Marble Madness. I’m in Japan at the moment and, like previous visits, I always take the time to look into one of the arcades here to see machines that don’t make it to the US: lots of rhythm games, from the Taito drum to one that has ten pads around a circular screen to one that looks as if you’re playing the piano. They have their shoot-‘em-ups, too, but the ones that really intrigue me are the fantasy wargames that use a combination of playing cards with RFID chips in them and a touchpen. I would love to try these games, but my Japanese is not enough for the complexity involved. In Denver, I took my nephew out to a retro arcade: you pay an entry fee and can play all those old 80s machines until you tire or the place closes. It’s not the same, but then, I have very few things troubling me these days.
Profile Image for Joseph.
67 reviews
March 17, 2022
There is a very good book in here, but due to some choices that were made this book is only good. The book is broken up in 256 "Stages" to mimic the stages of a game of Galaga (255, plus stage 0). While an interesting choice this format hampers the book more than it helps. Each stage is one paragraph of the book (there might be one of two exceptions, but I don't recall any) and as such Kimball jumps around between his personal story, stories about Galaga, explaining Galaga, and fun facts. This diminishes any sense of flow or narrative. I personally found his personal story well written and interesting to read, but then I would read two stages about a Galaga mod and Galaga's predecessor before jumping back into his personal story on the third stage. Also some of the stages are lies that Kimball states in a later stage that he was lying. The only reason I could think this choice was made was to help reach the number of stages in Galaga, because the only thing it does otherwise is establish him as an unreliable narrator. I still believe his personal story, but it made every fun fact he talks about suspect. I did still enjoy the book, but it's not one I would recommend easily.
11 reviews
December 28, 2021
This was an interestingly formatted book filled with comforting nostalgia, which easily draws in any readers that shared those formative years. That being said, the format of a series of short "Stage #" snippets of content just doesn't work for me. I understand what the author was going for, alternating between personal reflections of his abusive home life during his early years of engaging with Galaga, but it created a disjointed reading experience.

Also, I have to mention a bit of a pet peeve here. The editor should have advised the author to rewrite many paragraphs consisting of a series of "I did this" and "I did that" sentences. It was distracting and exhausting to read, amidst an otherwise casual and relaxing reading experience. Come on, Boss Fight, you can do better than that.
Profile Image for Bryan House.
546 reviews8 followers
April 14, 2022
The worst book I have ever read.

If I had to create a list of 10 things that happened in this book, I wouldn't even mention Galaga.

This book is UNHINGED.

The writing style was so strange, disjointed, and just plain BAD that the overall reading experience was very disturbing.
A memorable book in the worst possible way.

With a nonreliable narrarator for a nonfiction book (who at MANY points in the book states previous facts in the book were fabricated) makes your question what the point of even writing the book was. There is no notes or any references, so at which point am I supposed to know what is fabricated and what is not?

I am speechless.

Shame on the editor Gabe Durham. I need a nonfiction novel about the creation of this novel.
Profile Image for Dave Johnson.
418 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2019
So.... was expecting a pretty straightforward history of Galaga,which is one of my favourite classic arcade games. What I got was a deeply personal story from someone who's time spent playing Galaga got him through some pretty dark experiences. The book bounces in a sequence from notes on the development of the game, to trivia about the game, to stories of the author's experiences with the game, to personal stories of the author's childhood, and then back to the start of the cycle. It's as much a coming of age story as it is a tale of the game. I don't know how to describe it other than as a very compelling book. Very much enjoyed this.
203 reviews7 followers
February 1, 2020
A semi-autobiographical book of trivia about Galaga. Most of it is the kind of thing that clutters up Wikipedia articles and fansites. For example:

"Former Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis, one of the greatest linebackers to ever play football, has a Galaga arcade machine in one of his homes (along with Galaxian and Pac-Man). He is partial to it because he grew up playing it."

Mixed in with these are anecdotes from the author's childhood, which are generally more interesting than the Galaga trivia. That's not great compensation, though, considering I bought the book for Galaga, not Michael Kimball.
106 reviews
September 5, 2022
My second Boss Fight Books read. This is vastly different from my first, Goldeneye 007—where that book was mainly a straightforward (and super well done) behind-the-scenes story, this mixes memoir with ultra-comprehensive exploration of Galaga’s cultural impact with detailed recounting of what it’s like to actually play Galaga (and what it’s like to be good at Galaga). The structural setup of this book, which I won’t spoil here, was really enjoyable for me and helped make this something I had a hard time putting down. I’ve read only two BFB titles so far, but I’m delighted that they can be so distinct and yet awesome in their own ways.
Profile Image for Brad Furminger.
12 reviews1 follower
January 19, 2020
There are some interesting discussions of the Galaga game itself and the nostalgic feelings stirred up on playing, but it really wanders with random jumps to cultural and commercial references. The interludes themselves are only mildly distracting but venture into frustrating when a short time later the author admits to fabricating some of these various anecdotes along the way. I'm sure there may be some sort of connection intended toward how the reader may easily believe these false facts though his complaints of abuse as a child fell on deaf ears, but I don't think it really pays off.
4 reviews
January 12, 2020
I've read all the books in this series and this might be my favourite. The style is clear, straight to the point, and the way the book is divided in short thematic paragraphs is superbly done. It constantly alternates from a point of view to the other (e.g. personnal, factual, etc.). I think it is a success and a beautiful way to talk about books. This one, early in the series, made me realise the potential this kind of writing (meaning "this collection") has.
Profile Image for Luna.
170 reviews16 followers
January 3, 2021
1. If a book about a video game is going to contain descriptions of child abuse (physical and sexual) there should be some form of heads up.
2. In an attempt to reach 255 stages (sections of text), an homage to Galaga's structure, the author made up nonsense facts multiple times only to later say they lied about the fact.
3. A lot of the info in the stages was repetitive and simply took up space.
Profile Image for Morbus Iff.
758 reviews16 followers
June 27, 2018
The format of these books are both fascinating and infuriating all at once. I came for the game, but learn more about the player. And I'm not entirely sure if I like that yet. I'm all for rambling personal creeds, but after four of 'em, I'm not sure it "works". This one was particularly frustrating with the made-up crap.
Profile Image for Caro.
23 reviews4 followers
April 17, 2019
This book is all over the place. I like the 256 “chapters” being the 256 stages in the game, but the flow of the book kept being interrupted because of that. Trivia was spliced in constantly, making it a big mess. I would’ve enjoyed it more if it had been all one big story with all the nasty bits in one go. I like the emotional aspect and what the game means to the author though.
Profile Image for Tom Scott.
311 reviews4 followers
November 25, 2022
When I read about a publisher specializing in Video Game themed books I thought, “Why not, it’s worth the quarter” (stay with me!). To date, Boss Fight Books has published 28 titles, each one focusing on a single game. I scanned the list and didn’t feel particularly drawn to any one title (where’s “The Last of Us,” “Jak and Dexter,” or even “Food Fight”?). But like a bee crashing into a space fighter, I landed on “Galaga,” remembering playing it as much as any of the games from the early ’80s arcade era. I sucked, but that’s beside the point.

And unfortunately this book also kinda sucked. I wanted “Galaga” but got “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” I’m being harsh because this could have been really good—I think the writer is better than this and might have pulled off something special with a bit more effort. A kid from with a crappy home life (bully older brother, shitty dad, etc.) takes refuge and finds kinship in video game land. But the story is only (stay with me!) screen deep. It’s flimsy and feels beta, more of an outline than a realized work. That’s partly because it’s broken out into 256 short chapters (corresponding to the number of stages in “Galaga”). Having decided on this conceit the author struggles to find compelling content to fill all 256 “stages.”

So we get parceled out trivia, game tips, some superficial musings describing a dysfunctional home life, hints at deliverance, more tips, and a few dumb jokes (which repeat, unfortunately.).

On the plus side, I’m about the author’s age so there was a nice nostalgic pull in his descriptions of video game arcades and their, um, ambiance. Their stinky, stuffy, noisy, fraternal ambiance. Ah, Youth!

Here’s a shout-out to The Silver Cue, in Chula Vista, California, circa 1980-1983. I’m giving this book an extra star in its honor.
Profile Image for Eric.
655 reviews7 followers
May 20, 2019
I learned some new things about one of my favorite all time video games from reading this. Also enjoyed how the author related his own life to the game.
Profile Image for David.
1,065 reviews42 followers
December 17, 2019
The book is a collection of Kimball's disjoint memories which center around playing Galaga in an Aladdin's Castle arcade, in order to briefly escape an abusive home life. 3.5 stars.
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