When we hear the words “Game Freak,” we instantly think of Pokémon. While the developer made games in its early years for both Sega and Nintendo, Game Freak pretty much solidified itself as a Nintendo developer after Pokémon Red and Blue launched in the mid-’90s. However, in 2017 Game Freak developed the 2D platformer, Giga Wrecker, for PC. Now, Game Freak is bringing an updated version of the game, Giga Wrecker Alt., to Xbox One, PS4, and, of course, Nintendo Switch.
A robotic apocalypse
Giga Wrecker Alt. follows the journey of a girl, Reika Rekkeiji, simply trying to survive a robotic army bent on destroying life on Earth. The origin of the robotic army to the general populace is unknown. However, Reika has been imprisoned by the invaders. While she begins to lose hope, a mysterious woman infiltrates her prison to rescue her. But when an alarm is activated, the woman opts to kill Reika instead as their chances of escape have flown out the window. She tells Reika that her death is for the good of humanity and takes a crack at ending her life. After the woman is taken away by the machines, a stranger helps Reika survive her injuries by providing her a robotic arm and, essentially, turning her into a cyborg.
The visual design is teeming with vibrant colors and the sort of flair one would expect from a modern 2D platformer. Like most platformers, the story is told through dialogue that appears as text boxes at the bottom of the screen. The soundtrack complements the world. While the themes are rather dark, the surreal tones of the music and aura of the game’s atmosphere contrast the theme with a sense of light and hope.
Destruction and construction
Giga Wrecker Alt. is all about using the environment to Reika’s advantage to solve the landscape’s puzzles and get from point A to point B. Reika’s actions, outside of utilizing the world around her, are limited to jumping and punching. This is unfortunate as it seems they could have utilized her cyborg nature to add some variety here. The extent of the gameplay variety comes in how Reika uses debris in the world. She can accumulate debris from the robots or structures within the world to form a magnetic hunk of metal over her head. Players can then use that to pummel enemies or smash apart structures.
Reika does learn some new abilities from the debris she collects along the way, like being able to form a blade with it for a quick slicing stroke or compacting the debris into a block that she can use to reach other areas. This aspect of the gameplay was unique and inventive.
While the gameplay can be fun and rewarding when puzzles are solved, it can also be a tad frustrating. With any platformer, it’s crucial that the controls are tight and precise. The last thing anyone wants is to feel that the game is cheating them with cheap deaths due to sluggish or over-compensating controls. That very thing happened to me on a number of occasions. I plummeted to my death when over-correcting a jump on a few occasions. In fact, there was one instance where I experienced at least 10 deaths before I could land a jump precisely the way I needed to.
The bottom line
Giga Wrecker Alt. is a fun action platformer that represents a fresh direction for Game Freak outside of the Pokémon realm. The game lacks in combative and traversal actions for its protagonist and doesn’t have the tightest controls. But it satisfies in level design and the unique way in which Reika interacts with the environment to solve puzzles and push forward in her quest. Giga Wrecker Alt. is a worthwhile adventure for any platforming fan.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Accountant by day, video games enthusiast by night. Somewhere in between all of that, I’m a husband, dad, and generally a giant man-child, too. If a game is all about action, there’s a safe bet I’m playing it. I started laying waste to virtual worlds as a youngin’ on the ol’ Atari and haven’t stopped since.