Review by hangedman

"Taste my multicolored pain!!!"

This game is a lesson in excess. Needless, sickening excess. The basics are much like any other overhead shooting game (think Raiden or any of the numerous clones it spawned) released in the last century, but the distinction is made by its tremendous and disproportionate doling out of other shooter elements.

That having been said, there are three things immediately noteworthy about Gigawing 2 compared to all other vertical shooters:

Enemies will fly in and piss projectiles all over the screen: literally, thick streams of bullets that would blot out the sun if you were standing underneath it. Where other shooter bosses would be content to fire a barrage of bullets in a predictable wave pattern, Gigawing's regular enemies carpet the screen in thick blankets of opaque gunfire. An enemy will fly in (a run of the mill enemy, no less), open its bay doors, and cover your TV in brightly colored death. Submarines will fire windmills of pink and blue bullets from their core, fighter jets will spew thick lines of red lasers, and waves of enemies will eventually turn the screen into a sea of missiles.

Because there's no possible way for you to dodge such an attack, Gigawing 2 grants you the ability to reflect these shots back at your opponents. Reflect Force will send bullets back in the direction they came from, forming a shield and absorbing your enemy's attacks to return them in a glorious shower of doom. Reflect Laser is equally deadly, but the difference is that the effect is not immediate. When your reflect barrier disappears, every enemy on the screen will be targeted by thick lasers that do damage proportionately to how many bullets you¡¯ve absorbed. Indiscriminate justice is served to everyone in bright rays of death.

After seeing a catastrophic volley of gunfire the enemy has pissed at you, and after you have reflected said volley into a greater ballistic nightmare, your enemies will all gloriously explode and begin to piss power ups all over the screen. At any given moment, Gigawing 2 will be showering players in both day-glo bullets and shiny gem things. The gems are score multipliers; seeing as how the smallest of which multiplies any enemy's score by 5 and they're accumulative, expect your multiplier to be in the millions and your score to reach upwards of Ten-trillion on the first level alone. By the end of the game, your score could be in the hundreds of quadrillions.

Put things in this perspective: if each person in the world could contribute 20,000 points to a Gigawing score, I could beat that score even before the game was finished. Though impressive when you size the heft of whatever gargantuan number Gigawing 2 throws at you like a brick at the end of a level, it's hard to gauge one's performance from it and no matter how badly you play you end up with some number that's got more than about 10 zeroes after it.

The problem comes in that Gigawing 2 becomes more tiresome than anything after a while. If a giant wave of bullets is lumbering at you, you reflect it. If there isn't you can dodge, and if you're charging your reflect bar, you use a bomb to damage everything and eliminate every projectile. When you run out of bombs, you hope that by some chance of luck you can dodge a few random shots by clinging to the bottom diagonals of the screen (allowing the bursts to separate, although sometimes they don't at all) as your reflect force charges again, allowing you to fly right at the guns of the ship in a kamikaze rampage¡ªthis is until it wears off and you retreat like a whimpering puppy, hoping that your shield recharges before you get wiped off the face of the planet.

The fact is that the reflect attacks will be used as a destructive offensive because they need to be charged up and directed in order to result in a massive attack. The long charge time makes it impossible for the shield to be used as a last-ditch instinctive protection, so instead it becomes offensive in redirecting long chains of slow-moving bullets. The bomb, ironically, activates instantly to clear the screen of all bullets for an uncomfortably long period of time. Bass-ackwardsly, you'll use the shield for offense and the bomb for defense¡ªone can play for the longest amount of time only using the reflect attack and the bomb: you don't even have to shoot all that much if you don't want to.

This does quite a bit to diminish the differences between the characters as well. Though each has a different shot grouping and cosmetically different bomb attack, the variations are nullified by the fact that you'll resort either to a bomb or a reflect attack when any large ship shows up. The characters also take on the stages in a different order, but this does nothing to boost the replay, which the game already displays a deficit of.

The problems pile up quickly, but Gigawing 2 wasn't a bad purchase. Even though certain patterns of bullets are unavoidable, forcing you to reflect or bomb if you want to live, Gigawing 2 is both chaotic and refreshing; the attempts that it makes to breathe some new life into the shooter genre can't be entirely forgotten. The musical score is dramatic and unconventional, the graphics are crisp and functional for being a 2D/3D hybrid, and the whole concept of reflecting an enemy's attack back at him with even more potency is really a joy to see and use. Sadly, the bottom line is that with a total lack of replay and character diversity, the fun fades quickly when you realize that the easiest way to beat the game is to reflect everything and bomb when you can't.

Still, there's a lot of fun to be had in just bombing and reflecting, so I can't say that Gigawing 2 fails entirely as a 2D shooter. It's short and flawed, but I've got to be honest in saying that I've hauled it out of my collection more than a few times to have a run through it yet again.

5 / 10
Frenetic and stupid, yet also strangely charming.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 10/28/02, Updated 10/28/02

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