now; how can you go wrong with a game called Giga Wing? Giga
Wing, released in 1999 by Capcom and 'supported by Takumi' (who
would also be involved with the excellent Mars
Matrix the next year) is one of my favourite shmups. The 'Giga'
in the title chiefly refers to the insane scores this game
lets you make. In how many games can you make a billion without
breaking a sweat? It's not that hard to get a trillion either, my
best is close to 50 trillions. As the arcade flyer says, "Go
for the Giga score!". There also is a literal 'Giga Wing'
later in the game, but we're getting out of line...
to the game then; it's a vertically-scrolling character-based shmup
which can handle up to four players. It was ported to the Dreamcast
and followed by a superior (so they say) sequel. There is a second
sequel in the works too. The game is set in some kind of steampunkish
world, where people fly planes that look like the kind of futuristic
planes dreamt of in the Thirties. Being 1999, and this not being
a game released by Taito, Giga Wing is a nastily manic shmup.
'Nastily' because you cannot hope to navigate your way (OK, inhuman
shmup gods need not apply) through this game without the Reflect
Shield/Barrier. This is activated by holding and pressing the
fire button, which then marks off a circle about three times your
craft's length and reflects all the enemy bullets in it. These in
turn hit enemies (obviously), these hits scoring more than a normal
hit. There are smart bombs to even things out too.
achieve the gigascores we've been promised, scoring is based on
a score multiplier whose value grows as you collect medals released
by destroyed enemies. These medals are both generated by your normal
shots and by reflected shots. There are six kinds of medals
that enemies release:
Worth 1 point, and x + 1 after that. Generated only by reflected
shots hitting home.
Worth 1 point, and x + 1 after that.
Worth 5 points, and x + 5 after that.
Worth 10 points, and x + 10 after that.
Worth 20 points, and x + 20 after that.
rare, and gettable in only one stage. Worth 100 points, and-well,
you get the idea by now.
medal tally is cumulative, i.e. if x is your medal count
before collecting, say, a medal worth 10, the collected medal will
be worth x + 10. And so, if you now shoot down an enemy,
its score will be (Base value)*(x + 10). Quite gigaworthy,
reflect system was new for a shmup as far as I can remember. ESP.Ra.De
(Cave, 1998) had a kind of reflection mechanism too, but it's a
much more complicated one and not just related to score (I think;
please correct me if I'm wrong).
gameplay isn't everything; SNK's A.S.O. had a fairly ingenious
powerup system but getting it to work was (and is) quite frustrating,
and hence, so was the game. Fortunately, Giga Wing isn't
such a game.
Giga Wing is good, but the graphics may seem rather primitive
for 1999. The enemy designs are varied but generally militaristic
(we have a flying pancake, a warship, and a flying wing as bosses),
veering towards an Egyptian-Mysterious Cities of Gold-Inca
style towards the end; in fact, one of the bosses IS that Inca statue
which people have called an astronaut suit (with suitable modifications).
There are lots of nice explosions, smart-bomb effects and aesthetic
bullet patterns to keep people happy. The character designs
are adequate as well (though Ruby looks freaky). Level design, though,
is rather weak after a point- my chief peeve with the game.
sound effects are good, with a very booming 'boom' and engines droning
for boss fights. The music, though, is more of a mixed bag. It is
adequate in general and downright irritating at one rare moment
(the aircraft carrier stage, with some ass shouting 'COME ON!').
The stage 6 music is my personal favourite. But there's a good chance
you won't hear much with all the explosions.
these dissections may make Giga Wing look not so nice, the
whole is greater than the sum of the parts so that we do get an
entertaining shmupping experience. I, for one, prefer it over the
canonical good shmups.
I mentioned earlier, this game is a character shmup. And there is
a plot to tie it in. There's this Medallion which every one is fighting
for (or which causes them to fight), and apparently these four pilots
have signed up to try and defeat it for a bounty. You have the choice
of four pilots and their fighters, so let me get to that:
an ace pilot who became a nun (whose habit colourings remind me
of the Missionaries of Charity, the order Mother Teresa founded).
Come the war, she takes to the skies again in the Porchka,
a decent plane with heat-seeker missiles.
an ex-sky pirate who now runs an orphanage for war orphans. Obvious,
isn't it. She's in it solely for the money -obviously (again)
for the children. She flies the Carmine, the fastest of the
four planes and the best one for gettng medals.
Apparently this guy's family (with its own medallion) has some long-standing
issues with the Medallion. Of course, there's a senseless war in
the way for him to settle scores once and for all. He flies the
Raijin, with a wide arc of fire and the coolest bomb.
Also called Shutock in the game, he is a doctor who also
happens to be a cyborg. Easily the oldest of the pack, he
also has some scores to settle with the Medallion. His plane is
the venerable Widerstand, with interesting aimable options
which fire huge bombs which erupt into tongues of green flames.
You have to love that clockwork eye!
it's a character-based shmup, everyone says their little bit during
and in-between stages. The dialogue is more sober than your average
character-based shmup, somewhat in tone with the game. Ruby and
Sinnosuke get pretty boring fast, Isha is uniformly vapid, and Stuck
attempts to make wisecracks. In two-player mode, Ruby and Stuck
like to take the mickey out of Sinnosuke, and Stuck generally is
rather sensitive about his clockwork eye.