Gigantic Army is a 2D sidescrolling shooter that stays very true to the old NES style of games, not just in its presentation, but also in principle. While it doesn't do anything innovative, it's very competent at what it tries to do, and will certainly satisfy you if you're into this "retro" movement.
This game rewards flawless play and is very punishing if you don't pay attention to what you're doing. As it is a Mech game, movement is slow and methodical, and you need to think before acting, since you can't quickly move or stop any action. Presentation
To be honest, while I recognize that it's trying to look "retro", I don't like the way this looks at all. It's very colorless, the low resolution doesn't scale at all and it's very rough around the edges. It was made by only two people, if I'm not mistaken, but overall, I think it looks pretty poor. The enemies and Bosses look pretty cool, though, but the backgrounds' color and textures leave a lot to be desired...
But hey, it does look old
, if that's what they were going for. Instrusion 2, for example, looked much tighter. Or Bleed(even though I didn't like the aesthetic very much), for example.
There's too much green/brown to my taste.
is an interesting aspect. While I don't think it's very good, I think it totally fits the balls to the wall mech combat typical of the 90s. Very strong bass, actually! It sounds a bit amateur and doesn't really pack a punch, but I still appreciate it a lot for simply being there, weirdly enough, mostly for the feeling it manages to convey.
, I found awful. They were very generic and repetitive, louder than everything else, and ended up being very annoying. There are sound options, but the sound-effects seemed to ignore the scale, and the only noticeable difference was between 0 and the rest.
Now, let's talk about the game itself and Mechanics
There are 5 levels, and it wouldn't be an old-school game if you didn't have to beat all 5 of them with 3 continues, in one sitting. Oh yes. And you have a time limit per level! Granted, it's not a very long game (30-45 minutes, maybe?), but it's pretty challenging to do it nonetheless. Also, each time you die and use a continue, you'll start from the beginning of the level, with your score reset and lose all the power-ups (but regenerate life and shield).
You first start with 2 difficulties unlocked, Easy and Normal. You can unlock Hard by beating Normal, and Insane by beating Hard. I'll talk more about the difficulty changes later.
Aside from difficulty unlocking, each run is self contained. There's no progression at all outside each run. And inside them it's just tied to weapon power-ups and score.
When you start a game, you pick your difficulty, and then have a choice for a primary and secondary weapon. There are 3 of each, one of each tier. The primary weapon has infinite ammo, but the higher tier you pick, the less ammo you'll have for your secondary weapon. PW are an Assault Rifle, and Spread Shotgun, and a Grenade Launcher. SW include a Frag Grenade, a Missile Barrage, or a Single Laser Beam from freakin' Hell. No bias towards the beam at all, here.
For example, with the Assault Rifle you'll have 3 Beams, with the Spread Gun you'll have 2 Beams, and with the Grenade launcher you'll only get one Beam. This number is per level. When you beat a stage, your weapon will recharge.
Once you pick them, you'll have to stick with these weapons.
Your mech has an Health Bar, a Shield Bar and an Energy Bar. You can use the shield only when not moving/shooting, and each time you defend against something, the bar lowers. If it reaches its limit, you'll lose the shield for the remainder of the stage. Your Energy is consumed when you use the jetpack, but it recharges quickly. These two aspects are essential for you to plan whether to dodge and keep shooting, or simply defend, playing safely.
Killing enemies simply grants you Score, but there are crates throughout the stages that drop Health, Time, and Power. Power upgrades your main weapon (more damage, rate of fire, etc.), but you'll lose it when you get hit. Remember when I said it punished you? Yeah. Not getting hit will make you even more powerful, making this a very methodical game.
Aside from this, it's a basic shooter. Enemy variety is pretty good, and there are 1-2 mini Bosses per level, with a bigger Boss at the end. Everything has a pattern that you have to learn to master this game. And if you're into this kinds of games, you'll certainly enjoy beating the game several times with different loadouts and difficulties. The achievements are here to reward you for beating the game with high scores, without using continues and so on. It also encourages trying different weapons, and hints at secrets, so I have nothing to complain there.
Now, about the difficulty. What I wanted to say, and it is something I highly appreciate, is that difficulty isn't tied to numbers, in Gigantic Army. Higher difficulties change enemy behaviors, and even introduce new enemies. This is really good design, in my opinion, and something that I rarely see. Playing on Hard doesn't just make you be more careful, but actually changes your strategy, since the patterns are harder.
Personally, I enjoy these games a lot, but I prefer faster gameplay, rather than the slow mech. This isn't a fault of the game, though, as it achieves exactly what it sets out to do, but I think it's worth mentioning. If you like fast gameplay, you won't find it in here. The game is sluggish, intentionally so.
Also, the game feels a bit dated, from a design standpoint. It's designed with the old-school mindset, and while it worked before, it doesn't stand quite as well, nowadays. This is regarding the lack of progression, and there being only 6 weapons in total. The game Bleed did things differently, in which you could get upgrades, and more weapons (that were VERY different from one another) outside of the levels, and thus gave it more replayability. The game also focused more on reflexes, and movement had more depth to it, in my opinion. But I digress.
Those weapons only hold my attention for so long, it would be cool to have more, and even unlock some. Another issue, it tied to beating the game with limit continues, and in one go. I think the developers should give players the option to save. Keep the achievements for beating it without continues and perhaps without saving, but not everyone is into that. So just put that option in there, why not?
I believe the game would benefit from these more "modern" option, especially for audiences who aren't that familiar or fond of old games. And options wouldn't hurt, would they? Well, this is just my view, but it's not a very big issue at all.
I think I've covered everything I wanted to talk about. Even though it didn't hold me for too long, I think this game is pretty good. Limited, sure, but I think it does exactly what it wants to do, and it does that very well. It's not a game of mass appeal, but if it seems like your kind of game, give it a go, you won't be disappointed!