Game Freak takes a pause from Pokemon to put together a 2D physics-based platformer with some neat ideas.
When developer Game Freak can sneak away from making Pokémon games, the results are at a minimum interesting. It took a while for them to have the resources to do this consistently, but whether it’s the Game Boy stylings of Drill Dozer, the horse racing solitaire of Pocket Card Jockey, or the colorful platforming of Tembo the Badass Elephant, Game Freak’s developmental diversions are worth keeping an eye on. So when Giga Wrecker Alt was announced for Switch after being on Steam for a while, I was stoked to be able to check it out at PAX South.
The 2D platformer will most likely give you some minor Drill Dozer flashbacks, since the basic mechanics involve breaking apart the world around you. In the case of Giga Wrecker though, your main character Reika can harness that wreckage using the power of “ARCHE” (Arms Creating and Handling Effect) to interact with the environment and enemies. There’s also running and jumping, but once ARCHE is introduced, that becomes the central focus in the gameplay segments I checked out.
The earliest ability accumulates nearby debris into a ball, which can be wielded in battle and used to break barriers. Combat is simple at this point, though you might have to search for more debris as some enemies can only be hit by having collected a sizable amount.
While enemies do show up frequently, a lot of the early challenges are puzzle rooms where you have to figure out how to progress through an area. This involves destroying some of the debris in the room to, for example, create a series of platforms to get to the top of the room or making it so a ramp lands in such a way that you can walk up it to exit the area. Even in the early goings, I had to plot out solutions and experiment to progress. Thankfully each of these areas has an easy way to go back and restart the room if you make it impossible to complete.
Reika’s abilities start to develop more as the game progresses. I got to toy around with the ability to shape the ball of debris into a square so it could be used as a platform. I also saw a modified sword-like weapon that could be used to great effect in certain combat scenarios. Lastly, the ball of debris could be given bouncy properties, adding a trampoline-like twist for puzzles.
Overall, I’m encouraged by the variety of physics-based puzzle-platforming on display in Giga Wrecker Alt. There appears to be a story that takes itself seriously as well, with Reika being a cyborg of some sort. I didn’t retain too much of the specifics, but the animation was all very nice. I also wasn’t able to hear much of the music, but it’s got a pedigree being from Ridge Racer/Tekken composer Shinij Hosoe (and Game Freak’s games usually have awesome music). I don’t have any experience with the version available on Steam right now, but Alt on Switch adds more puzzle stages, a hint system, and an optional super hard mode.
I’m encouraged by the little I played of Giga Wrecker Alt and I’m happy that we won’t have to wait too long as the game should be out on Switch in the next few months. If you’re into that physical media thing, Limited Run Games is distributing a hard copy later in 2019.