Game Review #326: Giga Wrecker Alt. (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Category: Action, Platformer, Puzzle
Release Date: 5.2.2019
Price (at time of review): $24.99
Buy Giga Wrecker Alt. from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Will Gamers Freak Out For This One?
Certain companies have the ability to draw excitement with just the mention that they’re working on something new. One company within the gaming industry that has that draw is Game Freak, with their impeccable reputation with the Pokémon games. They made games for Sega and Nintendo for over two decades before becoming the famed video game developer of the electric yellow oversized guinea pig that is Pikachu.
Also, if you know their gameography, you’d know they also break off and make something different, like Drill Dozer or HarmoKnight, to have a change of pace. This time came again when they begin working on something called The Gear Project in-between their Pokémon projects. This project came to fruition as the game we are looking at now, Giga Wrecker Alt. It hit PC back in 2017, and now, in 2019, it makes it way to consoles. So, let’s see how it stacks up on the Switch.
The End of The World As We Know It
Giga Wrecker Alt. follows the journey of a 19-year-old girl, Reika Rekkeiji, awakening aloof and then trying to survive a now-dystopian post-apocalyptic Earth where a robot army has been steadily destroying all life. Reika has been imprisoned by the invaders, however, the origin of how they came to be or why they’re attacking is kept from us. A mysterious woman, Amane, infiltrates the prison to rescue Reika from her captors; but when an alarm is activated, the woman decides instead to kill Reika, which felt like a classic anime plot twist, as they don’t elaborate, she simply tells Reika that her death is for the greater good of all of humanity, then tries to kill her.
After the would-be-rescuer-turned-assassin is taken away by the machines, a scientist, Koutaro Kouzuki, helps Reika survive her brutal wounds. He replaces her mangled arm with a powerful robotic arm, giving her great powers to survive this world in which she finds herself. Now the story truly begins, as we see how she will use her new powers. Giga Wrecker Alt. is heavily inspired by anime, and it oozes out from the character designs and storyline; and if you look closely, you’ll see some similarities to some big series titles.
If You Wanna Scrap It Might Be Puzzling
Giga Wrecker Alt. is a 2-D side-scrolling, physics-based action-platformer with a large Metroidvania map to work your way through. After the game wraps up with giving you the opening story, it throws you in to the action, all while being coached by the scientist who saved your life. You learn that you’re no longer a helpless little girl, and you can now defend yourself and take the fight to the alien overlords.
As you move around the world, able to punch right through huge piles of metallic scrap, you’ll begin to find that the scrap is your friend. You can smash through structures to make ramps or to stack enough material to jump up to the desired ledge or area; though the controls when platforming could have been better. Reika felt floaty, which would hurt when I was trying to jump with precision. With physics-based puzzle games, the pain is getting the pieces to fall where you want them to fall. Luckily, there are pink glowing areas that reset these puzzles; but, sometimes, you can get stuck replaying the puzzle over and over before getting it right.
Before long, the scientist informs you that you can use a certain nanotechnology in your arm to absorb certain materials. The gameplay drags at points, as you have to stop the momentum of moving forward to read the dialog boxes back and forth between characters. Having voiceover actors would have helped keep the game moving forward, which would have helped the pacing a lot—or at least broken things up, even with Japanese voiceover actors, keeping with the anime theme.
So, as I said, you find out you can absorb items, and as time goes on, you’ll gain new abilities, allowing you to do different things with the piles of scrap, all while trying to solve puzzles to move forward on your mission. That mission starts with escaping and collecting data for the scientist, but before long, your mission changes to saving humanity and finding the girl who took your arm and tried to take your life. The scientist also installed a chip in your head that allows you to see when you’re able to damage enemies. This is done with a simple red color, meaning they can’t be hurt, or a blue color, which indicates that you have collected enough scrap so that the enemy can be destroyed.
You have a little robot sidekick that gives you hints with the puzzles. While this is appreciated, you’re still at the game’s mercy when the physics engine is fighting you. Still, some of the puzzles are genuinely tricky, so you’ll have to rely on a little luck, and just try try again; but as precise as you may be at times, it can still get a little annoying when it fails over and over. Something else you can find throughout the levels are save points. Make sure to take advantage of these when you finish those tough puzzles.
The enemies, no matter how big or small, tend to add more of a distraction whilst solving the puzzles. There is a fair amount of backtracking as you hunt down items and search for upgrades on the skill tree to upgrade your health, striking abilities and more, but fortunately, there are transporters found throughout to speed things up.
At the end of each level you’ll find a boss fight waiting for you, and these fights are a lot of fun. The bosses don’t only look great and have an epic feel to each of them, but just like the puzzles, there is a lot of trial and error to find out how to actually defeat them; and if you die several times, the scientist will chime in with some helpful tips on how to defeat the boss. When you finally do manage to take out a boss, you get a nice feeling of accomplishment, as they’re not so easy.
Audio & Visuals
Giga Wrecker’s soundtrack is one I thoroughly enjoyed, with its beautiful-but-melancholy pop sound that could easily be from a popular producer. The sound effects are well-done with the right amount of audible texture that’s needed, but the lack of dialogue is the only weakness in audio.
To match the beautiful soundtrack are the equally beautiful visuals and overall character and level design, especially the bosses! If you’re a fan of anime, I’m pretty certain that the art direction will be very pleasing to the eye, and it may leave you wanting a manga or anime series to accompany the game.
It’s A Wrap!!!
Giga Wrecker Alt. is a post-apocalyptic 2-D action adventure Metroidvania that shows Game Freak wants to step out and try new and different things. Though this side project doesn’t reach the heights of their beloved Pokémon series, it’s still a fun and enjoyable game that many gamers will love to play. If you can look past the tropes that come with physics-based puzzles, or better yet, if you welcome the challenge, then this would be a great addition to your collection.
Buy Giga Wrecker Alt. from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Keymailer