Gigantic Army – What We Think:
What do you get when you mix Contra with Metal Slug? You’d probably get something along the lines of Gigantic Army. Gigantic Army looks and plays like a late 90s side-scrolling arcade game, which is a good thing. Visually and mechanically, Gigantic Army captures what made some of the older arcade cabinet side-scrollers so fun and addicting to play.
Gigantic Army was designed to feel retro with a huge emphasis on making it fun. The game was developed by Astro Port, a three manned Japanese indie development studio whose message to the world is: “This is how fun action shooting games can be!” With a message like that, it’s no wonder Gigantic Army turned out as well as it did.
Man in a Can, Story in a Can
You play as a manned, mechanized robot known as the GMR-34 SALADIN. Your goal is to stop an alien race known as the Ramulons, who are trying to stop humanity’s advancement into space. It’s cliché but it’s never really expanded upon. After every mission the game will show you text regarding where you are going next.
It’s all fairly straightforward; nothing particularly interesting. I think the game would have benefited if it had a story with characters, but it doesn’t harm the game, it just makes the setting of the game feel not as developed as it could have been. The game focuses on delivering fun mechanics and that is evident as soon as you start the controlling GMR-34 SALADIN.
The six challenging missions in the game are all timed and you only get three continues to finish the game. Don’t let that last sentence deter you though, the game offers enough challenge without being too difficult. I must admit beating the game with just three continues was challenging.
Rush the Front
Since the missions are timed, you are forced to navigate the levels in an imperative manner to make sure you have enough time to defeat the boss at the end of every level. You can grab power-ups along the way that refill health, boost your main weapon, or add extra time to your mission timer. It’s crucial to be as accurate as possible while moving as quickly as you can which adds great tension – tension that I have missed and not experienced in a game in some time.
At game launch, you choose between three main weapons and one special weapon. The weapons you chose will affect how much special weapon ammunition you start each level with. Choosing a weaker main weapon will give you more special weapon ammo than if you were to choose a stronger main weapon.
Maneuvering around levels and shooting enemies are both responsive and satisfying. Holding down your primary fire allows you to strafe while shooting. Your hoover boots allow you to dodge enemies and projectiles at ground level more effectively than a conventional jump maneuver. Last, but not least, you have a shield you can use to block projectiles and close range enemy attacks.
The game offers enough options – not only when choosing your weapon loadout before you start the game – but also in the moment to moment gameplay. It never feels too restrictive or too simple. The game will introduce environmental hazards and different enemies to fight whereas a lot of older arcade cabinet games tended to feel highly repetitive.
When it comes to Gigantic Army’s visuals, they look fantastic, featuring crisp and highly detailed 2D sprites. The animation is super. Levels are defined enough and varied. Everything looks great, but eventually, it’s all short lived.
Although the game is a lot of fun, it’s also very short. Each of the six missions only take about a couple of minutes to finish, and – while having four difficulty levels helps add replay value – it’s still hard to see myself going back to play through it. Other than that, there is not much else – no other game modes besides a mission select. I was disappointed that the game was so short, since I was having a lot of fun. I felt the game could have used more levels through which to test my mettle.
Gigantic Army successfully pays homage to older 2D action based side-scrollers. It’s a good game that I wish was longer and focused more on its narrative. Although it is short, what is there is a lot of fun. I’d recommend it if you are into these types of games. Those looking for a more fleshed-out, deeper experience, should look elsewhere.
Watch the trailer for Gigantic Army: