The longer games go towards the future, the more its own little counterculture wants to cling to old values, such as Gigantic Army does for the 16-bit era. In nearly all fashion, its gritty look and feel exudes side-scrolling run and gun games of old, but not all of it is quite as timeless. It will, however, most definitely find its audience.
Grainy, pixelated locations are categorized between mostly destroyed environments and caves. Torn scaffolding and metal bases keep the theme somber, as do the tons of explosions and crunchy sound effects. It’s an all-out warzone in Gigantic Army, so the only contrast really comes from fiery flashes and lasers. For what it’s worth, it’s serviceable, since it’s still easy to discern what things need to die. If it moves, kill it.
Starting off, the player mech can be outfitted with one of three weapons, as well as one of three special attacks. It varies between fire rate over killing power, but the grenade gun is just as effective a spraying weapon as anything else, leaving choices unbalanced, but not pointless. It’s there for those who want it and works just as well. From there on, the goal is as simple as stated. Through slightly multi-tier platforms, gameplay progresses through a shoot and move design. Several enemies spawn from both sides of the screen, those can be picked off with one or two blasts and then the field is pushed forward. This only changes with boss fights, which both fill up much more of the screen and don’t go down without a fight. There are usually multiple hazards at once during one of these trials, almost bordering bullet hell territory at times.
When enemies mob together, there is quite some activity that needs to be handled. Multiple salvos from different angles can quickly makes things tricky to maneuver. In order to overcome this, the mech can jump and hover for a while, to weave in between bullets. Alternatively, it’s possible to dash forward and use a melee strike for a quick deathblow.
Whatever weapon option is chosen, the firearm is handled by aiming it up or down, before locking it into place with shots. It takes repositioning of the arm quite some time, which can hinder gameplay if not properly anticipated. This makes it more a matter of just choosing an overall direction that would wipe through most of the incoming paths, more than properly aiming at targets. Controls are sluggish overall, which is particularly a problem when trying to dash. Doing so requires a strange tapping motion that only seems to trigger once every few times, turning its use into a liability. Unfortunately, given stages are briskly timed, it’s a necessity to speed forward from time.
While that wraps up all there really is to say about Gigantic Army, its basic design does work out for the short game. Any area is packed with foes to kill, boss fights are frantic exercises in dancing between bullets and that traditional pixel atmosphere makes the whole stick together. It’s a rudimentary scope, but that’s what it’s going for. It wants to mimic a limited game from twenty years ago. It does so perfectly; style, mindless entertainment, flaws and all.