When a game tries to incorporate too many things at once, it already feels like a recipe for disaster yet when it works, it’s the best thing one can ever imagine! Game Freak, the studio behind the iconic Pokemon series, comes at you with a barrage of jabs and uppercuts in the form of Giga Wrecker Alt. A game that is so freaky, it wouldn’t be a surprise that Game Freak developed it. It provides a novel idea – as it is a platformer, a puzzle game as well as an action game about destroying robots with your cybernetic arm.
“A novel idea but lacks proper implementation.”
However when too many things are at play and you’ve got no idea how to make it work, then it becomes apparent that something’s wrong and it needs a workaround. The core mechanic is simple “solve puzzles and advance to the end while killing baddies along the way” but it lacks the proper implementation to make it worthwhile. And it fails to deliver the same effect as the likes of Limbo and Thomas was Alone. Certain parts of the game feel more frustrating than it is rewarding. Puzzles mostly ends with a sigh of relief than a pat on the back. Even if the players know how to make it work, often times, they’ll be stumbling back and forth to initiate it properly. “It might be just a miscalculation or physics doesn’t work as well as I imagined.”
Set in a dystopian future where a cyborg army has the world in its clutches, you take the form of Reika Rekkeiji, a young girl who barely survived the apocalypse but thanks to the power of SCIENCE! Dr. Kouzuki altered her body and gave her a cybernetic arm along with a few small trinkets in order to survive in her harsh reality. Armed with an arm… she has the capability to wreck cyborgs and magnetically compress their debris into a ball that grows bigger as more of it is gathered letting her destroy even bigger and badder baddies. In her path, she’ll stumble upon new upgrades and abilities to power her up in her quest. And her mission? Gather intel, find some answers and destroy some cybernetic asses!
It’s a very straightforward premise without straying away too much into confusing territory. It tells you what you need and when you need to without spending hours just for an explanation on quantum theory. It does however feel the need for a skip feature every now and then as often times, checkpoints can be rather disorganized making you go over and over the same scene until you’ve got passed the area.
Puzzle and platforming all seem like they go hand in hand at this point. Even with the fast-paced mode of puzzle-platformers like Portal that has you jumping through portals only to propel you to the other side of a cliff all seemed like it would’ve been a great treat. But despite all that, Giga Wrecker Alt. felt more of a mess than it is one sweet dessert. Propelling yourself with a rubbery ball of debris requires the utmost precision to get things right especially when that balls hates to stay still and prefers to move around and a gentle touch skyrockets you to the other side of the screen. Movement is also one of its greatest flaws making a single jump feel float-y like a chubby cloud dancing in the wind which in most occasions is never a good thing. It makes even the faintest of touch on your buttons miss the mark and would often have you falling to the start of a puzzle room or get you too close for comfort on an enemy that chips away your health everytime your fingertips touch theirs. Often times, it’s really just a frustrating experience that challenges your very being to keep trying until you feel like you’ve had enough. “It had the greatest of intentions but at the end of the day, it doesn’t have the right implementations.”
When it comes to world-building however, I find it more of a pleasant surprise that there are quite a few things to love within it… even if that world happens to be filled with maniacal robots ought to kill you at a moment’s notice, the very environment isn’t as horrid and more of a colorful shade with anime aesthetics. Even with its map layouts, it tries to stand out as a more awkwardly confusing level design than it is linear and boring. “And I love it.” As a confusing level is much better than it being linear which it implores you to explore than to find the way forward and get the hell on with it.
Boss battles, love them or hate them. Usually I prefer the latter and this is no different. Megaman games would be a great example for this, as I rarely have the chance to actually beat more than two bosses for each game. Although I was a kid back then and prefer to just mess around in Digimon World 2 anyway. Giga Wrecker Alt. provides tough boss fights along with their strategies and mechanics before one can conquer them. Usually frustrating but a sense of satisfaction is achieved at some point. Or not.
And in case you’re like me who sucks at everything requiring skill and precision, there are ways… grindy ways to give you a slightly sharper edge in battle. A robust skill tree that provides higher health, regeneration or a boost in one’s abilities is also available. This, not only has it in great abundance but can easily be achieved through repetition. Mainly by destroying enemies or wrecking debris with the blue orbs attached to them, you can obtain points that would eventually fill up a meter and earn you a point that can easily be achieved with a puzzle reset mechanism found in a ray of hot pink. Although a bit too boring and repetitive for my taste, it does help in a way.
There are a lot of things that could’ve gone right. But there are things that have mostly gone south. And Giga Wrecker Alt. would not be “that” one thing that I would recommend as it is. Its flail-y movement doesn’t help in easing that recommend button as it fails to deliver the tight and fast-paced game that it’s trying to achieve with the only redeeming feature to be as challenging as it is unpredictable. While its puzzles have great depth, the implementation can get rather convoluted in execution making a trial and error puzzler more on “Will it work? How about now… Now?!”