Review: Bosconian

Review: Bosconian

The most quotable arcade game of all time? 


Year: 1981

Played on: Xbox 360 via Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade

Also on: Several Namco Museum Compilations

Developer: Namco

Publisher: Midway


BLAST OFF! (I just had to do it!)


Date posted: November 29, 2017



People tend always credit Galaga for being best space shoot’em up of the early 1980’s. Well, I got news for you, pal! Don’t get me wrong- Galaga is an arcade masterpiece- but personally, I actually think that Bosconian is the superior arcade space shooter.

Bosconian, released in 1981 by Namco, is yet another Namco classic that I personally feel goes unappreciated, at least compared to their other space shooter games, primarily Galaga. I just feel as if it did more for the genre then Galaga, and I’ll try to explain why in this review.

The basic premise is simple- you maneuver your spaceship around a sprawling map taking out these huge green space stations by either shooting them in their core or destroying the six cannons defending each, while avoiding enemies, asteroids, and mines. Simple, enough, right?

I swear, this game did more for space shooters then Galaga by a huge margin!


The game gives you more freedom then most space games at the time- no longer are you a stationary ship going left and right- you can move in all eight direction using the joystick! You are given a radar to find all the space stations you need to destroy to advance- it also lets you know the position of enemy formations coming to gun you down. A very neat feature, that was also used in Rally-X, another Namco favorite.

Not only can your ship shoot forward, it can also shoot back- a feature almost unheard of at the time! Now if an enemy was chasing you, you had some way of protecting yourself- no need to turn all the way around to destroy the opposition!

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Things get hectic fast! I hope you know how to shoot!

Speaking of shooting, destroying those weird green space stations is probably one of my top 10 most satisfying things to do in video games ever. Landing a shot into its core and watching it explode is just pure pleasure- there is hardly anything I could think of more rewarding then destroying these space stations. Then theres landing a shot a two space ships at once. Oh my god.. I think I’m going to orgasm. Truly, a great and satisfying feature!

I meant what I said about this game being quotable. Every time you begin a round, a digitized voice says “Blast Off!”. It’s great- I always say it in unison every time I start the game up. Other great lines include “Alert Alert!” and “Battle Stations!”- the digitized speech is charming, and adds to the overall experience, in my book.

The game also boasts one of the most influential features in arcade history- the ability to continue your game! That’s right- Bosconian is the first game to let the player continue their game, a feature that has pretty much been in every arcade game since!


Like all Namco arcade games, the game gets harder and harder as you progress, and doesn’t really end as well. This isn’t a total dealbreaker, but those wanting some sort of ending are going to be disappointed. Fun fact- the round counter goes up to 255 before rolling over to 0, then back to 1. God, I wish I was good enough to get to that legendary round.

A real downer- most of the original Bosconian arcade cabinets were turned into Galaga cabinets, making the original arcade version incredibly rare to find! Thankfully, the game is in a lot of the Namco Museum collections, some anyone can play it now in days. Its just a shame that this is the fate that Bosconian was left with- to be gutted out so a more popular game can be played. For shame!


Bosconian is an excellent early 80’s space shooter with a sad fate- to be turned into Galaga machines while Bosconian itself somewhat fades into obscurity. Remember this tragedy as you play this game, and remember all those arcade machines sacrificed for the sake of another. I think Bosconian is a must-play for anyone who likes space shooting games from the early 80’s and if you could not tell, is actually one of my favorite Namco arcade games. Be sure to check this game out!


Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!


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