Thanks to Rising Star Games for the review code
Title: GIGA WRECKER ALT
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 05/02/2019
In this metroidvania puzzle platformer from GAME FREAK, you take control of a girl named Reika who suffers from a curse, and must use her new powers in order to save the planet and stop rogue robots!
Giga Wrecker Alt goes for a presentation where every character in the game is rendered as a 2D drawing of sorts, put up against some neat backgrounds that help blend together with the futuristic nature of the world. In motion, the game looks fine, although some of the animations are a bit jerky, and this is mainly due to the fact that this version of the game downgrades from the 60FPS of the Steam original to a locked 30FPS. Why they did this, I don’t know, but the game still controls tightly despite this.
As for the audio, most of the music isn’t really anything to make note about, since they serve as calm background noise to compliment the puzzle solving, and don’t get in the way much at all. That being said, boss battles do change the tone of the music, and as a result it leads to this game’s boss theme being an incredible song to listen to during the heat of battle.
Giga Wrecker Alt is a metroidvania, but instead of progressing from room to room and getting new items to find alternate paths, everything here relies on your brain, and while you still need to progress the story in some ways to open up paths in older areas, the game puts a lot of focus on puzzle-solving.
Your controls are pretty basic and easy to remember. You use your normal attack with Y, jump with B, and then your special arm can be used for the L, R, ZL, ZR and X buttons. The arm is used for the puzzles, since the way puzzles in this game work is that you can break apart orange-tinted objects with your normal attack, and then press R/ZR to gather any orange matter nearby. Using this matter, you can use it as a bigger attack to take out tougher enemies or turn it into a block to stand on with the L/ZL buttons. Thus, each puzzle in the game requires that you find some way to use the matter to make it to the other side of the room or reach a tricky platform.
Alongside these basic commands comes the addition of a blade that can be called upon when you have matter by pressing X. it doesn’t really do too much besides cutting wires and such, but this also leads to some complicated situations where you may need the momentum from a cut wire in order to launch a platform to another part of the room, or cut a hazard such as a sawblade in order to swing it towards stronger foes. Luckily, the game lets you glimpse at a completed puzzle to help you figure out exactly how to solve it if you get stuck, so the puzzles can get trickier without necessarily halting progress.
Oddly enough though, I had my progress halted for a bit not by reaching a puzzle room that was too complicated for my brain to handle, but rather due to getting lost and not noticing some mandatory optional exits. You see, this game’s map system is weird in that it only shows you the paths you can take once you find them. This sounds easy enough as the game shows you the way for the most part, but eventually I reached a point where I had to find a few beacons in order to unlock the door to the boss, and I couldn’t find that last beacon for the life of me.
Backtracking through every possible room and searching for any exits I didn’t find turned up nothing, and the map didn’t seem to show any routes I missed. It wasn’t until I found a platform you could drop down from, placed mere inches from a platform you enter the same room from, (thus causing me to think they were the same) that I finally found my final beacon and made it to the boss. If the map had only hinted at a vague exit I didn’t find, or if the game wasn’t so zoomed out all the time, then I might have been able to find it on my first trip to that room, but considering how it was dumb luck I took that route instead of the one leading back, Giga Wrecker Alt can have these confusing moments that make the game’s world feel like a labyrinth of headaches.
It also doesn’t help that the physics in this game can be utterly clunky. Sometimes I’m preparing to use a bouncy ball to shoot a platform of gravel I’m on to another part of the room, only for the platform to land sideways and somehow cause me to fall straight through it. Worse, when I end up cutting said platforms in ways that should let me use it as a stepping stone to cross gaps, there are times where I just fall through it because it was tilted a bit too diagonally. Sadly, Giga Wrecker Alt is filled with frustrating quirks like these, and it makes the puzzle solving feel a lot less polished than it should be.
Thankfully, the bosses are at least decent enough, providing you with means of using your matter in order to take them out, not unlike the actual puzzles in the other rooms. Sometimes you may think only one way of making them weak exists, only for there to be some sort of “Ah-ha!” moment that causes their attacks to be interrupted and allow for a proper hit. It’s just a shame the whole game has a lot of clunk surrounding these moments.
In conclusion, Giga Wrecker Alt ended up being a pretty decent action game from Game Freak, being a metroidvania with a very heavy reliance on puzzles that are often clever enough to get the player thinking without making them totally stumped. However, the confusing map, weird zoomed-out view and clunky nature of the game makes this one tough to recommend even for metroidvania fans, since it has a lot more jank than most polished experiences. Still, the strange nature of this game and the puzzle focus was interesting enough to keep me hooked, despite many times where I just couldn’t find where I needed to go, as the core gameplay was still solid.
The $25 price point makes this a very steep buy if you’re on the fence, however, so I recommend if you do get this game you buy it from Best Buy, who has a nifty physical version on sale at the time of this review. That way you get a bit more out of this purchase even if you do have to spend more to go for it.
I give GIGA WRECKER ALT a 6 out of 10.