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Gigantic Army Preview: A Retro Styled Side-Scrolling Shooter By Astro Port

A side-scrolling shooter with old-school roots. Astro Port's new game Gigantic Army looks to bring the classic genre back into the spotlight.

Let me start this off by saying that I love side-scrolling shooters. I am a big Metroid fan and I played the crap out of the original Duke Nukem. The only problem with them is that the genre sees a myriad of copycat games and the same mundane mechanics. Seriously, I love murdering mindless minions as much as the next guy, but do we need fourteen re-skins of the same game? (I’m looking at you Metal Slug).

To top it all off, the more recent ones seem to always have regenerating health bars or enough bonus drops to make the game almost play by itself. So when a side-scrolling shooter comes along and I can say ‘Wow, this looks fun!’, then it must be something special.

Enter Gigantic Army

In Astro Port's new game, Gigantic Army, you are in control of a pilot who uses a Manned Combat Robot (aka mech) and is participating in the Ramulon War as part of the Terran Defense Force. Star Trek homages aside, you make your way through several stages of unforgiving enemy aliens and some enormous mid and end stage bosses; and unforgiving is an understatement.

The stages are insanely hard, from start to finish. Taking a page from shooters of the early '90s, you are given a non-regenerating health bar and just enough health pickups to let you reach the end of stage boss, before you are mercilessly destroyed. Just like in days past: when you die, you die. You only get one life before you see a game over screen with the option to continue only three more times. The setup almost reminds me of an arcade game where you were required to feed a machine quarters if you wanted to have more than three chances to advance to the next area.

However, I found myself wanting to continue playing because of the amazing stage designs and how much fun each stage brings to the table. The backgrounds are full of animations like war ships attacking enemy buildings and fleets flying off to battle. The enemies are varied and there was always a new one waiting to end my life.

There are a variety of weapons at your disposal including a machine gun with rapid fire, a barrage of heat seeking missiles, and a particle beam cannon that can only be used twice per stage but deals a ton of damage. Out of all of them though, my personal favorite is the scattershot gun that fires several bullets in a wide spread. It makes the game just a tad bit easier when you don't have to aim exactly at what you are trying to kill.

My experience with that game was only hindered by a few bugs in the preview build. For example, the only keys on my keyboard that would work were the arrow keys on the main menu screen. I ended up using a gamepad which worked just fine. The only other annoyance was that there was no way to actually exit the game if I didn’t die first; I had to resort to using the alt-tab function to manually close the program. However, this was only a preview demo, so I expect these issues will be resolved in the final release.

Gigantic Army is an addictive game which pays respects to the classic side scrolling shooter genre with its old-school challenging charm and incredible fun. If you are a fan of games like Contra, then this is a game you need to watch out for when it launches February 5th.

If you would like to download a demo of the game, or learn more about the dev team at Astro Port, head over to the official Gigantic Army website!

Published Jan. 23rd 2014

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