I’m not a huge fan of retro-gaming as a genre, which is probably the sort of sentence that starts lynchings in the indie gaming community. I firmly believe that the best thing that the video gaming community can do for itself is pushing boundaries. Even indie studios with limited resources can try new things, take risks, and expand the horizon of gaming.

That said, not every game needs to be The Stanley Parable or Papers, Please. Sometimes just making a solid game with good fundamentals is all you need to make something work playing. And Gigantic Army, from Astro Port, is one of those games worth playing.

Gigantic Army is a side-scrolling action shooter featuring mechs. (Which, by the way, is easily in my top ten favorite sentences ever.) It is very similar to older titles such as Metal Storm for the NES and Metal Warriors for the SNES. The basic mechanics are very similar, but the Astro Port team has shown that you can teach an old dog new tricks, at least to some degree. They add their own touches to the game that, though not revolutionary, still make for a fresh take on the genre. (Fair warning, there are some story spoilers below. I don’t think I am ruining anything shocking, but proceed at your own risk.)

You play as the pilot of the SALADIN, a Manned Combat Robot, as war wages between Earth and the Ramulons. You spend the first half of the game frantically trying to defeat the Ramulons on their own turf and end the war, but in true indie-game fashion Astro Port was not content with the usual narrative of the heroic soldiers defeating the evil alien empire. Midway through the game, after defeating the Ramulon and conquering their home planet, Earth begins to wipe out the aliens and replace their cities with human habitations. A somewhat genocidal Earth now turns around and becomes the enemy. Your character takes the side of the Ramulon reistance and you help to lead an overthrowing of Earth rule on the planet.

The story is not truly essential to the game. It is convey solely through text in-between the missions and there is no real emotional investment in the conflict, but it is none-the-less refreshing to see something a bit different from the Heroic Earth narrative.

In addition to the changes to the storyline, there are some minor modifications to gameplay as well. The boosting and dodging built into the game makes for a frenetic gameplay style as you find yourself flying all about the map. Also included is a limited use shield that can help protect you from a limited number of attacks before breaking. Again, these are not massive changes to the genre at all, more just slight tweaks to some of the classic control schemes, but they do add to the overall quality of the game.

ss_23f8b00c980886cdd1bec36cb831c2a4b7bcd569.1920x1080

More than anything, what Gigantic Army really has going for it is quality. The art design is classic and well-constructed, and the sound design is similarly high quality. The controls are tight and responsive, and the overall game play is action packed but not overwhelming. (This is not a bullet-hell.) If you have any love for a good old fashion action arcade romp than you will enjoy Gigantic Army.

That said,  there are certainly some areas that could be improved. The most obvious flaw is the length and amount of content. The game can be beaten in under an hour, which is fine for an arcade shooter, but they could not go awry having more missions and content. We can save games at will now, so there is no need to make everything beatable in a single sitting. Another flaw I found with the game is in the “fluff” surrounding the gameplay. The text-based story advancement is not engaging, and really feels tacked on. Having a little bit of dialogue and story built into the game itself could really pull the player in more. In addition the menus are somewhat sparse. They do get the job done, but they again feel tacked on, just like the story.

The game really takes retro-gaming to a new level by not even expanding the aspects of classic games that could really do with it. Yes, the menu and story mimic classic game design, but we don’t have to constrain our games to older patterns just to fit a genre. I’d like to see more games use classic game design as a base, but use modern design techniques to spruce up the overall quality and design of the game. Poor menu design and a lack of story were not charming aspects of classic games, but rather flaws that can be corrected now.

All in all, I think Gigantic Army is a solid action game. It is fun, fast, and at only $5.99 on Steam, it doesn’t hit the pocket book to hard either. Gigantic Army was developed by Astro Port, and published in the United States by Nyu Media.

 

Overall Score
85 %

A solid little title that, though not revolutionary, is still a a good time.

Story 70%
Graphics 75%
Fun 90%
Replayability 85%

About The Author

David grew up in the Detroit area without becoming a degenerate. He loves exploring the world in every way imaginable. His favorite pastimes include video gaming, board gaming, watching anime, and speaking in the third person.

One Response to Gigantic Army