If someone told you that stomping around in a heavily-armoured mech suit is not nearly as fun as it sounds, with no further context beyond that, you’d probably think they were speaking pure blasphemy. Sadly, this is exactly the case with today’s title: Gigantic Army. Astro Port’s 16-bit shooter found its way to Steam in 2014, and rocket-propelled is way to the Switch earlier this year. Even six years on, it still feels like untapped potential.
Ever wanted a side-scroller to shoehorn tiresome pages of exposition via dull diary extracts in between loading screens? Well, you get exactly that in Gigantic Army. The general gist of it all is that you’re a field engineer with a robot suit, and you’re helping fight an army of mechanical menaces on planet Ramulon. Your contributions to the war effort are awfully minimal; you can beat the entire thing in less than an hour.
The shooting and platforming is decent enough, with one glaring exception: the aiming system in the game is utter tosh. Now, if you could aim your weapon or shield with a single analogue stick, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. Problem is, it’s applied to both sticks, and since the left stick allows you to both move and aim, it can make doing both of these things at the same time feel like a clunk-fest. It’s a shame, since there’s a fair bit to praise here. For instance, you can pick between one of three weapons and special attacks, and can slam enemies with a very powerful melee attack. You can also slide or briefly fly a jetpack, perfect for dodging attacks.
There’s a pretty high enemy count, made up of big and small mechs, as well as turrets and ships. Battling them is a fair challenge, though some of the boss battles are inconsistent in quality. Most can be decimated far too quickly with the aforementioned melee attack, while others give you very little space to move around, making these encounters feel like a real pain in the, um… chassis.
The port runs without fault on the Switch, though its pixel art graphics and enemy designs are not all that impressive. They serve their purpose, though nothing about any of it sticks out. Same goes with the level design, as there’s not a lot of exciting stuff to marvel at. The soundtrack isn’t that grand, either. Worst of all, something’s clearly wrong with the audio, as there are times when the explosions sound distorted and crackly, as if the Switch’s insides were self-destructing.
Even though it’s a low-priced title with some decent arcade-like action to go alongside, Gigantic Army is far too rusty. Astro Port’s vastly superior Shmup Collection is a finer example of their talents, as they feel more balanced and polished. Janky aiming, shoddy audio mixing and too few levels on offer just doesn’t justify a full-price purchase. In short, (s)crap.
Review code supplied by PixelHeart.