Game Freak brings a fantastic mixture of platforming and puzzles to Nintendo Switch.
When Game Freak does something different, I very much pay attention to what they are doing. This writer is very much a Pokemon fan, but the company's crazier ideas really don't pass me by. The beautiful horse racing solitaire nonsense of Pocket Card Jockey and their go at a rhythm game with HarmoKnight are both worth seeing all the way through. Another side they have on lock are with games like Pulseman or Drill Dozer, platformers with impact that you force you to think outside the box. Long have I wished and hoped for a game that created the same amount of impact. Back in 2017, I noticed GIGA WRECKER and really wanted it to come to home consoles. At Thunderful's offices in Sweden, I got to play an in-progress build for well over an hour. Suffice to say, I very much love what I played of the title.
Like I said at the top, this game isn't quite a new release. The original GIGA WRECKER released exactly two years ago on Steam, and it was very much loved. The game revolves around Reika Rekkeiji, a girl stuck in a robot prison around the year 2035. Three years prior, killing machines came out of nowhere with no warning and started to enslave humankind. The old were put out of their misery, while the young ones did all of the machines’ bidding. However the 19 year old gets a rude awakening when a mysterious girl tries to break her free. When her attempt fails, she points a gun at Reika and nearly kills her. A doctor turns Reika into a cyborg and the two make each other a little deal. Reika helps the doctor out, and in turn,the doctor will let Reika roam wild. What unfolds is a spectacular adventure that certainly excited me.
GIGA WRECKER ALT is a 2D platformer with tons of physics and fighting sequences. Yes, there is your basic smooth jumping and running, but that takes an instant backseat to what really makes this game tick. By using the power of Reika's new body, she breaks the world aparts and turns it into your weaponry. She will swing balls and swords made of debris to put the furious robot fiends down for good. As well, the debris can be used to solve puzzles in the environment. Sometimes you will turn the debris into a gigantic block, allowing to you create a new platform or swing the balance in a different direction.
The stuff that you can do is solely limited by how much debris you collect. Some sections might be blocked off until the ball moving on top of your head is bigger. You can't recklessly move past enemies or ignore grinding spots as every new section requires the player to build up from scratch. It quickly becomes important to be prepared at a moment's notice as a puzzle could take an unexpected turn. One of the later objectives asks you to place your garbage at a specific angle, giving you only seconds to climb the newly-created section. From start to finish, the flow of the proceedings feels quite fantastic as you never run out of those juicy resources.
As you move along, the abilities and possibilities widen. One of the last sections required me to add sticky goo to my garbage, allowing me to bounce off it. Another segment allowed me to use the collect debris button to activate streams that would launch me into the air. That being said, as options expand, so too does the game's overall difficulty. While the first 30 minutes were possible without even a second thought, the second half required the old thinking cap. The challenge was fairly entertaining, though some outcomes were a little far-fetched.
In the original release, players got easily frustrated because of some absurd solutions. Game Freak has seen the error of their ways, and has added a brand new character, Dolma, for the ALT version. Dolma will help players by giving visual hints for the puzzles. True puzzle game fans can simply ignore the newly-placed terminals, but if you're more keen on the story, this is obviously a great addition. To compensate for this, Game Freak also added twenty new puzzle stages to make the game even bigger. The existing player base will also be happy to know that a hardcore Ironman mode as well as an updated localization are in the works.
I walked away super impressed by GIGA WRECKER ALT. While I could've technically kept going, I sort of want to keep some mystery about the game. The action seems fluid and the overall puzzle design appears to present a pure challenge. Not everyone will be on board with that, but there are new options for more casual or less seasoned players. The Switch version ran extremely well, going the extra mile to ensure that it is worth playing in handheld mode. GIGA WRECKER ALT releases sometime in 2019.