Pleiades (Arcade) is the Retro Game of the Week for 23 January, 2017

Released: 1981
Developer: Tehkan
Publisher: Centuri (US version, played here)
System: Arcade
Genre: Vertical shooter
Played on: MAME, gamepad

This edition of the Retro Game of the Week is pure, unapologetic nostalgia. While its featured game, Pleiades (also spelled “Pleiads” elsewhere), is pretty much a bog-standard vertical shooter game with a few neat tricks, my affection for the game comes from it being an arcade game in a gas station within walking distance of my home back when I was young. I played this game probably way, way more than I should have. And I loved every moment of it. Nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake for once in RGotW, but at least somewhat deserved.

Pleiades is comprised of four stages, repeated over and over until you run out of lives. The first takes place on what appears to be a military installation, complete with makeshift shields and tracking satellite dishes (that also fire at incoming aliens). The aliens swirl in via various patterns, shooting at the player and occasionally morphing into fast-moving ball-shaped aliens and walker aliens that lay down shields just above you that block your fire. After you defeat them, the second stage has you blasting off into space to take on a group of small aliens that quickly grow into large bird-like aliens that you have to shoot the center of — shooting their “wings” only slows them down. When those are dispatched, you take on the alien ship that spawns waves of aliens while exhaust ports on the ship open for bonus points. When the ship is dispatched, a message onscreen tells you to return to Earth; you must then navigate through a landing strip full of parked ships and a quickly tapering edge (both of which destroy your ship and make you lose a life) to a target point, where the first stage begins anew and slightly increases in difficulty.

It is reminiscent of games like Phoenix, yet its style and gameplay make the game very compelling on its own. But let’s face it, I probably would never have made this a Retro Game of the Week if not for that arcade game in a corner grocery store near my house.  Nostalgia, friends.