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REVIEW: Free(!) vertical scroller space shooter Distant Galaxies

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There are several vertical scroller space shooter games but very few of them are free. Distant Galaxies, available for both Windows Mobile platforms (touchscreen- and touchscreen-less) is one of them. It’s available HERE for download and is recommended, albeit it has some problems.

There isn’t much to elaborate on: you download the CAB or the installer EXE file, install it, start it and play. You go forwards, kill your enemies, try to pick up the bonuses as in most vertical scrollers. Note that you can reconfigure the buttons.

As of current, tested version: 1.6,


  1. Free!
  2. Excellent on high-resolution (VGA) devices because of the high resolution and seeing all the bonuses
  3. Compatible with WM2003 onward (but, of course, not previous OS’es)
  4. Compatible with all screen configurations and both Windows Mobile platforms
  5. Moderate CPU usage on most platforms (40% on a VGA 624 MHz PXA310 iPAQ 210, 55% on a 176*220 196 MHz TI OMAP 850-based HTC s310 / Oxygen MS Smartphone) – not on all though (88% CPU usage on the WM2003 QVGA iPAQ h2210 using a 400 MHz PXA255)
  1. No autofire
  2. Can’t be controlled via stylus on touchscreen devices
  3. Stuttering (to a different degree) on all test devices
  4. No music (albeit anything can be played in the background without major performance penalties on the fastest models)
  5. Major performance degradation (stuttering) with background music playback, particularly on slower models like TI OMAP-based phones
  6. While it’s compatible even with 176*220 MS Smartphones, the game area will be so small that you won’t even notice most of the pick-up bonuses – unless you know beforehand where to go.

It may be worth getting the game. While, as of (current) version 1.6, it has some problems (like stuttering), on the whole, you get a lot – for free.

Tip: play back a music track in the background!

Vertical scroller space shooters? Then, Xenon 2, probably the best game of the genre ever produced. Do you want to make Distant Galaxies sound like Xenon 2? Then, play back the Xenon 2 sound track in the background.

If you want to stick to the original Commodore Amiga module file, it’s available HERE, in Pack 3. Should you want to go for a MP3 remix (unless you’re a die-hard retro fan, you’ll want to prefer this to the original Amiga MOD) directly playable in the built-in Media Player, you’ll most probably want to go for THIS file instead. Note that for example THIS page has the music in a Midi file; its MP3 version is pretty low-quality and in no way recommended.

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