After a painfully long hiatus in production, the shooter has triumphantly returned to the market. Armed with 3D graphics and deeper gameplay, the shooter has once again found its place in the hearts of the masses. Capitalizing on this trend, Capcom has released Gigawing, proving that there's a lot more to a good shooter than a cool design gimmick. Why Capcom USA brought this game to the States is beyond us.
One day, the Medallion of Wisdom fell from its shrine in heaven. The power-hungry humans quickly discovered that equipping their planes, trains and other devices with this metal granted them the power of the gods. Naturally, this medal fell into the wrong hands, and it's up to four fighter pilots to wrestle it from those hands and destroy it and all that it begets. To help them, these pilots have a magnificent new power at their beck and call - the Reflect Force. Aptly named, the Reflect Force does just as the name implies - it reflects enemy bullets. While this power can be used as many times as you desire, it takes a short amount of time to recharge between uses. In addition to the Reflect Force, each fighter pilot has his own weapon, ranging in both attack spread and strength, and three screen-clearing bombs.
While the Reflect Force is a great concept, the game surrounding it isn't so hot. Gigawing began as a CPS2 arcade game, and the difficulty that stems from these arcade roots is apparent - this game is impossible. That may be a slight overstatement, but mortals should expect to continue a lot. The screen is constantly filled with beams, bullets, and other deadly projectiles. While the whole point of the Reflect Force is to turn this ceaseless barrage to the player's advantage, the Reflect Force's recharge time makes it difficult to use. In fact, you're likely to die many, many times when trying to use it. During the game's latter half you may find yourself dying and continuing only to take advantage of the three bombs that come with every life. This kind of difficulty is not only frustrating but also disheartening. Radiant Silvergun, the de facto standard for quality shooters these days, is the exact opposite: Although that game is difficult, one still felt that the odds weren't impossible, and playing again and again would almost always result in additional progress.
When you are dealing with shooters there will always be the question of longevity. Compared with recent offerings, Gigawing is definitely a questionable release. Thanks to the unlimited continues, you may opt to complete the game in your first sitting. A sitting that will last all of 30 minutes. And that's it. Nothing more. Playing with the other three characters adds nothing to the game, really, rather giving players the chance to skip the brief philosophical monologues and play the same levels in a slightly different order. No secrets, no different levels. Not even a worthwhile ending.
While Gigawing may have been an impressive feat for the aging CPS2 arcade board, it doesn't stack up on the Dreamcast at all. Sure, the Dreamcast's processing power gives the game silky-smooth dodging mayhem without a hint of slowdown, but that doesn't mean the game is in the least bit attractive. Capcom got where it is today by bringing a high level of polish to the table, something Gigawing developer Takumi can't seem to imitate. The game's graphics are muddy, primitive, and lacking in style. To top it off, the game's effects are nonexistent, animations are brusque, and the color palette is garish and unbalanced. Takumi's audio team is no better than the art team, bringing appropriately mediocre music and sound effects to this entirely stale effort.
Why did this game come to the US? If Gigawing were priced to move, the violent lack of quality and longevity could be forgiven to an extent, but it's not. Gigawing was designed with the hardest-core shooter fans in mind, but it's this same audience that's likely to be the most disappointed.