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 Post subject: Giga Wing Generations (PS2)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2006 7:06 pm 

Joined: 25 Jan 2005
Posts: 3059

Giga Wing Generations is the third chapter of the series and the fourth Takumi game based on the reflect force mechanic. Put in this way, boredom may seem to linger right behind the corner. However, this is a Takumi game: while Night Raid was somewhat questionable, the rest of their shmups line-up is excellent stuff. The port itself is not perfect, just very good. There are some graphical aspects that will disappoint the graphic maniacs (and this is the most polite definition i could think of, as i don't want to *troll* in reviews!).
This game is a sort of "Giga Wing Extra/Dream match", as it lacks a real plot and other stronger design elements. However, the basic steampunk look, typical of Giga Wing titles, is still here in its glory, like the top-notch gameplay. how the game compare to the other chapters of the series.
Final note: the title has been published by Taito, instead of Capcom, with the original hardware being the new Type-X.

GFX: 7-

It's true: there are graphical issues. The game runs at 30 FPSes, which is not a huge problem, but 60 would have been better (and a bit easier for discerning bullets, the only true and objective critique that can be moved). Also, it's true that in some points the game frameskips, and what's more embarassing is that these points are not the most complex to handle for the game engine. We're speaking, however, of a few seconds per stage, nothing to really worry about, once you know what you�re doing. Design is, well, good but not superb as in Giga Wing 2: the second chapter, after all, was a superb example of steampunk, so it would have been difficult to be at the same level, let alone better.
One interesting thing is that the Gun Frontier inspiration is stronger: not surprising, being that shmup the father of all steampunk titles in this genre (and being this a Taito/Takumi game). Some aspects are a tad disappointing, like the true final boss (the Medallion), which is the classic glob of energy shooting three gazillion bullets per second, but the rest of the game is pretty good, design-wise. Programmers didn't add a full Tate mode but after all, the original mode ("horivert", like the other Giga Wing titles) is somewhat very close to what the programmers probably had in mind in the first place.


The game has good graphics and design, but runs only at 30fps. It is not a problem per se, except for a few sections were the action is not so hectic but the game frameskips. Some chromatic choices are questionable, but overall the graphical aspects are good enough. It lacks the arcade tate mode, but it is not a big problem, since the original horivert mode is well balanced.


The OST, for instance, is quite good. Yasushi Kaminishi has done an elegant mix of modern mix of electronic and, for the lack of a better term, 'ethnic"music, which suits charmingly the gritty steampunkish atmosphere.
Island stage's song is the more "ethnic" one (i apologise for the repetition but...), with its charmingly refrain and melancholic mood. Vulcano stage, instead, sounds like a modern and stern arabic melody, a perfect complement for the dark settings of the volcanic base.
Stage 3 is the train chase: every Giga Wing game needs a train chase, this one is particularly exciting and well done. The accompanying song is basically an electronic piece with a fast tempo, simply perfect in fitting in the stage's style. Stage 4 starts like a gregorian chant, to be abruptly transformed into a raw electronic droning, with a short chanting refrain: the perfect counterpart for the wall of bullets to be faced during the assault to the ark. Stage 5 is a reprise of the Island's theme, just done in a more electronic style, to suit the final battle in the medallion's den, in the Netherworld.
A few notes about the boss themes: the first theme (stages 1-3) is good but not too inspiring, exactly like the generic electronic theme of the Medallion. The boss theme for stages 4 and 5 is instead very good and dramatic, as it's basically a blend of hard rock and techno, with female voice to give it a a fitting dramatic touch. Finally, the sound effects:basically, they�re all recycled from the other titles in the series, a good thing to give a sense of continuity: not only that, but they're never too intrusive, something which is always a plus, in my book.


Excellent ethnic (or maybe "world") music which suits marvelously the pace and the settings of the game, with the classic giga wing sound effects. The boss themes are a bit less excellent, except the one for the fourth and fifth stage.


The basic idea is still the same: take the reflect shield (no reflect laser in this chapter, and no one used it after all�) and score a lot of points by reflecting bullets back. Every bullet you reflect back against an enemy will transform into a bonus worth a +1, the value will increase by taking more bonuses and not dying. So, if you take 5 +1 bonuses, you will get 1+2+3+4+5=15 points to be added to your multiplier.Every point you score in the game is multiplied by this value, so you can reach truly big scores: hence the name "Giga Wing".
In order to do this, you can choose between four planes, which are the same four to be found in Giga Wing 1 and 2 (in 2, Limi was the equivalent of the Stranger): Hawk is the standard wide shot type, a bit faster this time; Robin is the full forward and fast type, Eagle is slow and has the homing missiles, Grouse is of medium speed and throws exploding mines with the moving pods (which will move to the back of your ship if you move forward and vice versa).
In this chapter, however, things have got fast: you can point-blank enemies, with a huge increase in their value (1 million when being in overlap, there are no collisions in the game). Problem is, since every enemy shoots one billion bullets per second, this is not too easy to do. Of course, you have the reflect shield that makes things easier: you reflect the bullets back and then close in to take down the enemy as close as possible. This time, however, shooting enemies will give you bonuses: so, you need to mix the reflect shield, basic shots and quick point-blanking tecniques to get the highest amount of points.
This basically means that you have to run a lot around the screen in order to get a lot of point-blank bonuses, destroy enemies before they go away, usually by shooting them first. Since the game has more bullets than Giga Wing 2 (and you usually don't get any slow down, except for a few ill-programmed sections), this is not an easy task. In case you're fast enough, you will get extra enemies, like Mars Matrix or Shikigami: of course, this means that you need to be even faster and more efficient, in order to exploit the extra amount of bullets!
The game has a few minor elements that could have been better: slightly more refined boss battles (but the last three are very good), a few issues of confusing slowdown (see graphics section) and an unbalanced roost of planes, being Robin and Hawk being stronger than Grouse and Eagle.Still, an excellent system with an excellent balance.


Gameplay is excellent and mixes a lot of interesting elements from past Takumi games, plus a few new ideas to increase speed. It has some issues of speed and ships are not too balanced, but the overall system is truly excellent, worth the game price alone.


The game offers an excellent challenge as long as you want to get huge scores: not that the game itself is easy for a beginner, as the bullet count is higher than Giga Wing 2, and the overall pace is very fast.
One thing must be said about the speed: the introduction of the point-blank feature, the possibility to get extra enemies and the overall design of the stages all lead to a very hectic and fast-paced style of gameplay. The basic idea is that you have to reflect as many bullets as you can, point-blanking enemies while the shield metre recharges.
One interesting thing is that the gameplay becomes even more hectic if you play in two (the so-called "tag mode"), as you can easily create walls of bonuses by reflecting all bullets back (thanks to the opportunity of using two shields). Finally, there's the opportunity of using the score attack option for training and fun: you play a single stage (triggered by arriving on a single credit on a given stage) for points, with the multiplier increasing progressively the more time you are alive.
It will be very difficult that you will play this game for a lot of time, unless you really want to hunt down good scores. On the other side, the game offers an interesting score attack and a "pick and play" attitude, so the "random play every once in a while" is somewhat ensured.


The game offers a good challenge for 1-CC purposes, but really shines if played for score. The two-players mode is also interesting, as the score attack system is. If played for score, it also grants a good longevity.


Giga Wing Generations is a good shmup: while the port could have been better, there are only small issues that can be easily overcomed by a few plays. The best aspect of the game is clearly gameplay, in which Takumi programmers have shown all of their experience and expertise. The game is clearly a product of these times, as it has a very minimal design and a �dual� attitude: if not played for score, is somewhat easy and doesn�t show its full potential.At any case, it is surely worth its price, as it offers a solid shmup experience, much like the other two games of the series.

Chomsky, Buckminster Fuller, Yunus and Glass would have played Battle Garegga, for sure.

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