By Guy Rainey / February 5th, 2014
|Release Date||February 5, 2014|
Do you like side-scrolling action, giant robots, and a stiff challenge? Then Gigantic Army may well be for you. Gigantic Army was created by Astro Port, a Japanese indie team, and localized by Nyu Media. It’s exactly what it looks like at a glance: an old-school, side-scrolling mech shooter; nothing more, and nothing less.
You play as a member of the Terran Defense Force. You are a pilot of a Manned Combat Robot (MCR), GMR-34 SALADIN, in a war against Romu– I mean, Ramulons. The TDF is on its last legs. A strike against the Ramulon homeworld is the only chance for survival humanity has. If it’s not already clear, story is not this game’s great strength. That’s okay, since the mechanics make up for it.
You start out by selecting a combination of main weapons and special weapons, which you get to choose. The main weapon you choose gives you a higher or lower stock of special weapons. So, will you choose the grenade launcher, the most powerful main weapon, and limit your special weapon stock? Or will you choose the assault rifle, giving you more special weapon stock, but at the cost of raw power? That’s a smart move on this game’s part. Giving you a nice number of options, it gives the game more replay value as you experiment with different configurations.
No matter what configuration you go with, you’ll have a powerful melee attack that you can use if you get in close to an enemy. You have a shield for blocking enemy bullets and a jetpack with limited range. You can attack at any angle in direction that SALADIN faces, though, since the controls only accept eight inputs, it can be a little difficult to line up the shot exactly the way you want to.
In addition to experimentation, the game also provides a stiff challenge for replay value. Enemies are everywhere, so you’ll need to proceed carefully. However, thanks to that timer, you can’t waste any time. It’s a constant struggle between careful movement and quick progression. There are no lives or checkpoints in Gigantic Army; there are only three continues that put you at the beginning of the level. It’ll make you angry, and you’ll ragequit, but then you’ll think, “Maybe I can do this,” and you start up the game again. Even after I attempted to put it down for a minute, I kept getting pulled back in for another try.
That said, if you want to just have fun gunning down enemies, there’s an Easy mode. It takes maybe an hour to finish it in this mode, but even here, it’s not a pushover. You’ll have a blast blazing through the six levels. I suspect that even those who only play this mode will find they’ve gotten their money’s worth even from this alone; there are a lot fewer entertaining things on which you could spend $5.99. For those who find Normal too easy, there’s a Hard mode that unlocks after Normal is completed. Plus, there’s an Insane mode for those who can finish Hard mode.
There are one or two minibosses in each level, culminating in a gigantic boss battle. Each battle is cleverly designed, forcing you to learn the bosses pattern to take it down. This is where the time limit really gets in the way. You can’t afford to take your time on these battles, lest you not have enough time to finish the level. However, in each encounter, you’ll learn more about your foes, and the most efficient way to take it down. Every time you lose, you’ll understand where you went wrong and how you can do better. It’s the mark a great challenging game.
The presentation is pretty good. Animations are smooth, and the music sets the tone well. The system requirements say it only needs a Pentium III processor to run, so any machine you have lying around should run this game fine. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but it doesn’t have to be revolutionary to be fun.
Actually, that’s a pretty good description of the entire game. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but it’s very well done. If you want a side-scrolling shooter to keep you occupied for an hour or two, this is a good one.
Review copy provided by publisher.
astro portgigantic armyNyu Media