Michael Kimball has written a book about my personal favorite fixed-shooter space insect kill-fest, Galaga. However, after reading Galaga, I find that all my love for this game may pale in relation Kimball’s beautiful, compulsive, rewarding relationship with the arcade classic.
Pew! Pew, kids! Pew!
If you are unfamiliar with the 1981 Namco/Midway hit fixed shooter game: fear not, readers, this book is more than an instructional manual or video game essay. Kimball’s Galaga tells the author’s tender life story. Parts will ring familiar from earlier Kimball works, like Big Ray; however, this time it reveals his life via his relationship with the game – and games in general. It is handled with the deft, bittersweet touch of a joystick hero who deals with all the big troubles and small joys life that shoots at him – or that he can shoot back.
But this book is also for the most hardcore old school gamers out there, packed with fascinating bits of trivia – mostly true, some that the author imagines only wishing they were true. For instance, did you know that Galaga is pronounced with en emphasis on the second syllable, or that Galaga has been featured in both a 1982 Schlitz commercial and a song by Coolio? There are so many tidbits of information packed into this slim volume that you will feel like an expert on the game, regardless of whether or not you have ever slipped a quarter into an arcade machine and watched the Galagans descend upon your little ship.
And don’t get me started on the space battles. The action is one of the real treats of this often heart-breaking book about family and relationships and abuse and coping. No joke, Kimball keeps you on the edge of your seat. He manages to turn this 2-D 8-bit fighter into full-blown Michael Bay action sequences, during which you are gripping the book as if it were the wheel of your own spaceship. It really is a feat worthy of the admission price.
Boss Fight Books has been a very interesting project to watch. I loved Ken Baumann’s Earthbound, even though I had never been able to get into the game. I happened to be a Galaga fan before reading the book, but true to form Boss Fight Books has put out yet another video game book that is so much deeper than anything created in pixels. It tells of the life behind the game, the world created by it, and how it is more than a game to one man. Empty out your sack of quarters and go pick up a copy of this Michael Kimball’s Galaga. You will know you are in the hands of a master. Pew! Pew!
Release Date: July 1, 2014
ISBN 13: 978-1-940535-03-6
Purchase from Boss Fight Books
About Timmy: Timmy Reed is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. He has recently published or has work forthcoming from a number of places including Akashic Books, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Everyday Genius, Necessary Fiction, and Atticus Review. He also published a collection of stories, Tell God I Don’t Exist, and has novels forthcoming from Dig That Book Co. and Underground Voices in 2015 and 2016. Click here to learn more.