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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 

 

   
 

 

One of the better games released by Capcom for the Dreamcast was Giga Wing, a traditional vertical shooter that while not exactly innovative, was notable for its extremely intense gameplay and huge number of shots and catered to the shooter fan niche perfectly. At long last, Giga Wing 2 has arrived with numerous enhancements and upgrades making it one of the more-enjoyable titles on the console. Read on as we take a closer look at this excellent shooter.

While many have written of the classic shooter genre as dated and obsolete in todayís 3D-crazed gaming world, there is still a core of strong believers in the genre who keep hope alive. One of the strongest appeals of these types of games is that they are, for the most part, pure gaming skills tests, with little in the way of frills and extras, allowing the player to concentrate on the action at hand. While thereís been a dearth of releases for fans of the genre in recent times, that hasnít stopped a few great ones from slipping through the cracks. One of the better and more notable releases from the last year was Giga Wing. While it didnít really break any new ground, aside from itsí cool score multiplier system, the game was a solid entertaining game that pleased many fans of the genre with itís classic gameplay. It was also notable for the huge number of shots on screen at a single time, making the game manic while making for some of the harshest difficulty levels seen in recent times. While some players opted to use the abundant continues, trying to get through the game without them was a challenge. Giga Wing 2 takes all the elements of the original vertical shooter and enhances them without losing the essence of the gameís appeal. Sporting new 3D backgrounds and an enhanced score multiplier, the game has been pumped up significantly but thankfully the solid gameplay of the original game remains intact. 

A few twists here expand the formula a little, and make the game more interesting. Before the game begins, you can choose from one of four pilots (as opposed to two in the first one), each one has their owns weapons which are very distinct from each other, so players can select the one that best suits their play style. After this, GW2 pretty much follows the traditional shooter formula, where players earn upgrades by collecting powerups. There are usually loads of enemies on the screen and you can use either your standard shot or the more powerful blast attack to wipe the screen clean of them. Where the game diverges from the norm is in its score multiplier system. When you defeat most of the enemies, yellow crystals appear on the screen, getting these gives you points and the more you get the higher the score for each gets, thus the score multiplier. The bad thing about this is that when you lose a ship, the score multiplier resets to zero, making the quest for a high score very difficult indeed. Itís all part of the strategy of the game and this quest makes the game very addictive, making what could have been a single run game instead feature a very high amount of replay value.  

The intensity of the original tile remains intact as the most difficult aspect of the game is avoiding the prolific number of shots that the enemies throw at you Ė as all the great shooters do, Giga Wing 2 requires a great deal of concentration in order to get through the gameís levels. The levels always end with a traditional confrontation with a boss creature, but in this game, the bosses are merciless, pummeling literally hundreds of shots at the player, the only way to truly get good or avoid the shots is to memorize their patterns and know precisely where to sit. This isnít as easy as it sounds and there will be many cases where the player will find themselves dying multiple times before theyíre able to make it through successfully. However, the game itself is loads of fun, featuring very tight controls and a great amount of strategy. During the normal portions of the levels, which are quite intense, it is tempting to unload your mega weapons when things get difficult with hundreds of shots aiming at you at once, but doing so will leave you with very little in the way of offensive capability when the times comes to battle one of the gameís bosses. So, success in GW2 requires patience and good timing with super weapon deployment. The game really comes down to an exercise in timing and skill, knowing when and where to move the ship is half the battle. 

Giga Wing 2ís visual approach is outstanding, with a much more elaborate approach that is more dramatic than the original;. The gameís upgraded graphics are very impressive with the new 3D approach giving the playfields added depth though not making things overly complex Ė this as opposed to the first game where everything was sprite based and felt a bit dated. Some players didnít mind this because of the gameís classic feel and fairly accurate translation from the arcade edition released several years earlier but the game didnít utilize the DCís advanced hardware which was disappointing. The backgrounds may be in 3D but the main ships and weapons are still-sprite based objects displaying the detail and creativity that Capcom has become famous for. The level designs themselves are very impressive with loads of 3D objects and some really cool environments succeeding in taking the game out of a 2D plane, while allowing the traditional gameplay to stay as it is, itís one of those hybrid titles that mixes both but the transitions seem seamless..  Adding to the slightly more cinematic feel of Giga Wing is the more dramatic orchestral score that really makes the game feel more immersive. While the plot seems a bit thin, one thing that players will appreciate is the fact that the story line branches in slightly different directions depending on which of the four fighters you choose to use.

Giga Wing is a solid title, especially for fans of the genre who are starving for new entries. It takes a lot of what made the first game good and only enhances it. Between the multiple weapons levels, the score multipliers and the sheer amount of shots on the screen, this is one heck of a handful trying to play through, especially with fewer continues. Fans of the genre will also enjoy the upgraded graphics and innovative approach, but the most important aspect of this is that for the most part, the gameplay is strictly 2D. This is great news for fans of the genre, especially on the heels of the release of Mars Matrix. While the temptation was obviously there, adding a bit of 3D mechanics to the game would have hurt Giga Wing but its absence isnít really a major issue. This is due to the solid addictive gameplay that is really all that matters. In the end, itís good that Capcom decided to stay true to their strengths because doing a fully 3D shooter could have potentially ruined the experience. While some gamers may find the approach and style of game rather shopworn, for the true shooter fan, it just doesnít get much better than Giga Wing 2. This is another solid entry from Capcom, with slick production values and solid gameplay.