Review by Tobalman
"I just don't get it..."
That is, I don't get how Giga Wing 2 made it on the top 100 DC games list on a certain other site (hint: do you like smelly places, like junkyards?). It wasn't highly rated on the list, but still, it took a place that many other shooters deserved. Many hardcore retro shooter fans praise the original Giga Wing for the Sega Saturn, and rightly so. Capcom is capable of making good shooters, I am certain. GW2, however, is not an example of a good Capcom shooter (yes, Capcom has its fair share of hits and misses kiddies). In short, better graphics doesn't equal better gameplay. What it seemed Capcom was doing here was greatly improving the graphics (although they are not that great for DC standards) at the expense of the gameplay; there is absolutely nothing truly innovative about GW2, and it seems the gameplay was an afterthought in order to rush the game out.
Gameplay I Feel: arcade v.s. console
Bullet hell shooters got big after the demise of arcades in the U.S. Although they're still big in the arcades of Japan, most shooter fans here didn't experience bullet hell shooters until they were on their PS2, Xboxes or DCs. Bullet hell shooters, in a sense, is a property of console gaming, as far as Americans are concerned. Additionally, although GW2 may have been a Japanese arcade release, I know nothing about it, and it sure as heck didn't come here (unless imported). Arcades were officially dead in the U.S. when this game surfaced. Even though it has arcade overtones, like a continue screen and point gathering, it's safe to say GW2 feels like a game that would originate on the console, rather than in the arcade.
Gameplay II Purpose of gameplay: fun v.s. challenge
Unfortunately, GW2 is neither challenging nor fun; after only a couple minutes of play, I gathered that playing through will be frustratingly difficult. Ultimately, Giga Wing 2 feels like a glorified twitch shooter. In other words, instead of putting some serious time and effort into the gameplay (to make it genuinely challenging), Capcom took the easy way out and put in cheap, mindless shooting and bullet dodging. There is a "shield" gimmick that is supposed to deflect bullets, but I didn't even bother figuring it out. After ten minutes of playing, every fiber of my being was telling me I was having (and would have) an unenjoyable time playing through GW2. I am thoroughly convinced it is just not my cup of tea.
The mechanics are sufficient. It is straight forward bullet hell weaving and returning fire. However, bullets in some bullet patterns are so close together, it seems impossible, or near impossible, to find a safe spot between them. Bosses are especially known for those patterns, and one could say the mechanics make staying alive virtually impossible. There is an auto-fire button, however, using the auto-fire will make the player unable to use the barrier. It's sort of like the player if damned if he uses auto-fire, damned if he doesn't. The player shouldn't have had to choose between auto and protection. The game requires both features, and keeping one away from the player only needlessly handicaps him further.
The graphics are rather average. The bullets are not animated and, thus, are rather lackluster. The ships seem to be rendered sprites, while the backgrounds are 3-D. I have no real problem with the ships, however, I found the backgrounds to be corny. At times, the designers tried to give the sensation that the player's ship was moving "into" the background, however, because the camera following the action gets perfectly aligned with the corridor, for example, one is going down, it just feels like there is a visual disconnect between what the background is doing and what the actual sprites are doing. The sound was overly dramatic. Shooters aren't supposed to take themselves too serious, yet the brief cut scenes and sounds attempt to make the player think otherwise. The overtly dramatic mood ends up coming off as unintentionally funny, I thought. I did like the explosion sounds they're movie theater quality.
Simply put, I wasn't impressed. I've read the original GW is a genuine challenge, and thus, plays better, and after experiencing GW2 for myself, I can attest to that statement. The only gamers who will get something out of this game are hardcore retro shooter fans. Since the game was made after the millennium, I don't know if it would be considered retro, though. At any rate, I don't see anyone else delightfully playing through this game once, more less several times. There is nothing bad about the game, GW2 is just so painfully ho-hum it is easily forgettable among the sea of other ho-hum shooters throughout history. It has a "been there, done that" aire about it, a "been there, done that" aire that simply can't be traced to any shooter in particular, but is a reflection of twitch shooters in general. There are much better bullet hell shooters on the DC, and for starters, I would go with the original GW.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 08/29/11
Game Release: Giga Wing 2 (US, 05/16/01)
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