Last year, Game Freak took one of its semi-regular breaks from its beloved little pocket monsters in order to bless us with a futuristic, sci-fi adventure, side-scrolling 2D platformer in the form of Giga Wrecker Alt. And now it's just released on console.
It's as inventive and eccentric as the likes of Drill Dozer and Tembo in its own way, with you following the colourful endeavours of a cyborg called Reika Rekkeiji as she navigates her way through a futuristic world in which she is left for dead. She is subsequently rescued by Doctor Kozuki, who provides her with cybernetic implants using technology from robotic invaders. And now she's set to become a serious butt-kicker. Very much like Ghost in the Shell. You know, those kind of vibes... Well, that's what it reminded me of anyway.
Giga Wrecker Alt loosely follows the formula of a Metroidvania platformer. It ticks off most of that trusted checklist, having perfectly timed jumps, ever bigger and badder enemies and a skill tree, which you're able to use nanocrystals in order to upgrade skills, increase maximum health, and unlock new abilities. I've typically steered clear of Metroidvania-type games, but I willingly gave this a chance.
Giga Wrecker Alt's big trick is its variety. You collect and accumulate debris from both the environment and defeated enemies, shapeshifting it into whatever you need it to be at that particular time, whether that's a block to help give you a boost to a higher platform or to smash your way through rocks in order to get.
Maybe you use that debris as part of an arsenal of increasingly powerful weaponry as you face off against ever bigger and tougher. Maybe you soak it in a rubberizer, turning it into a bouncy wrecking ball that cutely adds even more novelty. The best thing to do in this game, by far, is destroy things. Lots of things. I loved accumulating debris and using it to completely destroy enemies by smashing into them with my growing pile of debris. The melee-based combat is one of the standout aspects for me regarding this game. I'm not so good at the sneaky, stealth thing, you see.
Here's a game that really makes you use your intellect when it comes to the puzzles, as they require a lot of reasoning and movement skills - a bit galling at times, and often a little clumsy, and I wouldn't have gotten through it without my adorable, floating robot companion called Dolma. Giga Wrecker Alt ushers you through its more frustrating moments with a splash of colour, though, its levels looking absolutely stunning. At times, it felt like I was looking through a kaleidoscope.
It's not all great, though - the soundtrack is bland to the point of being offensive, and after a short while I opted to play with the game muted. The physics can be a bit wooly sometimes, too, making simple solutions hard to attain. It's not particularly ground-breaking, either, but it is fun. Even if I do feel like I've got a little Metroidvania fatigue now...