Release Date: February 5th, 2014
Publisher (Developer): Nyu Media (Astro Port)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Gigantic Army should be the poster child for the slogan “Don’t judge a game by it’s cover art.” A janky official site featuring an uninspired game summary with warring factions that sounded were ripped straight from favorite sci-fi franchises (Ramulons v. Tarrens) would hardly compel anyone to download this game. But Gigantic Army surprised with unique, challenging levels and a weapon choice system that adds depth and strategy to the gameplay.
Choose Your Weapon
The first challenge in Gigantic Army lies in choosing one of three light and heavy weapons. Selecting a certain light weapon will add or subtract to how much ammo your heavy one will have, which can play a role in how you approach the multiple boss battles on each level. Each weapon in both categories has its strengths and limitations: the shotgun for instance is good for crowd control, but hardly scratches bosses. And when the clock is ticking, that’s right there’s a timer, you’ll not want to waste any time.
Game Over can come one of two ways, the aforementioned timer running out or by loosing all your health—aka the old fashioned way. Minions will chip away at your health and occasionally bar your way to the next stage, but it’s the bosses that will eat up your time and health if you’re not careful. On one level, I had used up all my missiles, alternating to my assault rifle I wasn’t doing damage fast enough and ran out of time.
Level design offers another layer to the challenging gameplay, there are 6 stages in total and each has it’s quirks. One was a series of winding underground tunnels, meaning I couldn’t booster-jet over enemies with my mech—I had to face the hoards head on. But the tunnels occasionally diverted into dead-ends, which sometimes meant a health pack, power-up (ammo for the big secondary weapon), or more time added on to the clock. However, spending too much time exploring on one occasion meant my downfall, and you can only replay a level twice before being kicked back to the start—the very start. It’s a mild irritation, but since the levels are roughly 3-5 minutes long and there are only 6 total I got back to where I needed to be in no time at all.
Replay is for the dedicated who enjoy nostalgic sights
Gigantic Army only gives you two difficulties to start with Easy and Normal. As you progress and beat the game, you’ll be able to playthrough on harder difficulties. For the hardcore, this feature may incline some to replay the game, but for me I require a little more incentive, like achievements. Nyu Media says once the Steam version is released achievements will follow, but as of now there’s nothing to bring me back. The case may be different for others.
Fans of arcade shooters will certainly feel a pang of nostalgia looking at Gigantic Army‘s 16-bit design and retro UI. For what the limitations of 16-bit animations bring, the designers certainly make you feel like your in a gigantic mech, lumbering about the environment. The character movements feel heavy. Even when I used the jetpack to get over obstacles, it felt like my mech was struggling against gravity to push it upwards.
I wish I could sing the same praises for Gigantic Army‘s score, but it was one of the weakest links in an otherwise solid game. Stale and repetitive, I preferred to leave the game on mute while I listened to a podcast or book on tape while I played. Sound effects were fine, but because of the music I muted them as well so my ears could consume more engaging sounds.
Don’t come here for the narrative
If you’re looking for the story portion of the Gigantic Army review to sell you, don’t wait up. The whole thing is told through memos from a guy’s perspective. The memo’s are long and uninteresting for the most part, between levels I would mash the A button frantically on my controller to skip over the main character’s musings until I got dropped back into the action.
Gigantic Army doesn’t overstay its welcome—it’s short enough to playthrough in an afternoon and every bit of it is fun. Its weapon system allows you to curate the gameplay to your style, and gives you opportunities to experiment and create a strategy. While the 16-bit design doesn’t look like much, it’s clear through looking at the level design and character animations that thought was put into this arcade indie. And at $5.99 its a great bargain for what it offers.
Site [Gigantic Army]