These skies aren't very friendly!
Ahhh…the good ol' top-down shooter. The quintessential videogame. No searching
for keys or crates, no princesses to rescue, and no complications. Just you
flying a heavily-armed craft by the seat of your pants versus about a bazillion
enemies. Depth shmepth.
That's why I'm really enjoying GigaWing 2, the sequel to Capcom's
GigaWing. While it doesn't offer anything new, it certainly gives some
seriously frantic arcade action.
The story is silly and sort of inconsequential. It's the future and you play
a mercenary pilot hired by the Union to crush the Serbenian Republic's rebellion.
That prettty much wraps it up. But considering that it's only a shooter, you're
not playing this game for the plot.
Before the chaotic dog fighting ensues, you'll need to select one of five pilots
and their respective fighters. Naturally, the fighters have different characteristics
from one another. Mastering the game with each ship, considering their varying
speeds and weapon load-out, will provide virtual pilots with a long lasting
challenge and an incentive to play over and over again.
Part of that challenge comes from the nostalgic and ubiquitous 'three lives'
per game. Capcom doesn't leave any room for error. Unfortunately, they tried
to balance this by giving you unlimited continues, so it doesn't really matter
if you die a lot.
In fact, by using the continues as they come, I was able to finish the game
in about fifteen minutes. And despite how good you think you are, the difficulty
of the gameplay sort of demands using the continues. However, it is challenging
to see how far you can go without continuing, and I recommend playing like you're
As with any shooter worth its salt, GigaWing 2 rewards players with
weapon upgrades galore. Believe me, you need every one of them. Wave after wave
of the enemy's armada swarm over you with no breaks whatsoever. It is actually
hard to see the background as it's so obscured by enemy fire. Yes, it's that
The general strategy for shooters is find a pattern in the enemy fire, look
for a break, exploit it, and repeat. That technique works for this game for
about twelve seconds. Fortunately, your ship is equipped with its own high-power
ordinance, such as the Force bomb, which annihilates everything onscreen. But
the showstopper is the rechargeable "Reflect Force," a shield that gives you
temporary invulnerability and sends enemy shots back in their faces. It's great!
Reflect Force can be used in a couple of different ways. You can select either
Reflect Barrier, which sends shots back in the direction they originated, or
the more offense-oriented Reflect Laser, which envelops your ship in a force
bubble. When shots hit the bubble they are absorbed and held while your ship
locks on to every available target. When your bubble hits capacity, the stored
shots launch into the advancing horde, decimating them. Way cool!
Speaking of cool, every fighter has a distinct energy signature to his or
her bomber, and all are incredible to behold. My favorite is Raven's Wing Bomber;
when maxed out, the ship grows huge wings (Gundam like) which slice through
the bad guys with pyrotechnic glory.
GigaWing 2 delivers in the fine print as well. For instance, in the
middle of a firefight you really don't have time to shift focus and see if your
Reflect Force gauge is recharged. Instead your "jump-pack" equipped controller
gives a little internal thump when it's ready to go, which is extremely helpful.
This game is not only old school fun, but it looks great. 3D backgrounds that
rotate and move independently of the main action dazzle the eye and add to the
immersion. Or would, if you weren't so busy trying to survive.
Which raises the first of GigaWing 2's problems - the difficulty. Seriously,
this isn't an easy game, and frustration isn't out of the question. The unlimited
continues is a nice thought, but that also means that finishing the game is
merely a matter of time.
And despite the tweaked graphics and nifty weapons, this is still just a simple,
mindless shooter and might bore some of you. The multiplayer adds some replay
value, but in this day and age (and next gen system), I'd kind of prefer to
see just more varied gameplay. Beating a game in 15 minutes is a little too
But all in all, this is a good game. For a mere $20, you get plenty of mindless
old-school fun, albeit for a relatively short time. But hey, it's more than
worth the dough!