|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
As the market's first 128-bit gaming console, the Sega Dreamcast held promise for old and new genres alike. Brave new frontiers could be crafted for exploration, reviving games that were due a renaissance.
Specifically, the shooter is an amazing form of game, with sprites flying in every direction, demanding nothing less than god-like reflexes to navigate its torturous and deadly levels and bosses. Imagine the shooter that could be developed on the Dreamcast!
Giga Wing, from Capcom, is not that shooter.
Giga Wing is a vertical-scrolling overhead shooter in which players choose one of four pilots to destroy a war-inducing power stone (no, not that Power Stone). Each pilot reveals a his or her story through written monologues that appear between stages. Two players can play together, with different dialogue for each combination of two pilots. Either way, these stories make little sense, and add nothing to the game.
Each fighter comes with different basic guns, but the controls remain the same. Beyond the standard fire and bomb, Giga Wing introduces a new shooter feature: the reflective shield. Holding down a button engages a shield that reflects all bullets back at their origin, rendering the hero invincible. It takes time for the shield to recharge; proper use can save lives and inflict major damage.
But no matter how judicious your use of the shield, it's impossible to escape Giga Wing unscathed. Bullets swarm across the screen in incredible numbers, seldom leaving a means of escape. It doesn't matter how inhuman your hand-eye coordination is, there's no avoiding the massive death and destruction Giga Wing throws your way.
But, hey! None of that matters, since Giga Wing gives you infinite continues. Die all you want, we'll make more. If you have a half-hour to kill, you can beat this game, regardless of your skill level.
This combination of insane difficulty and infinite continues destroys any challenge the game might otherwise offer. There's no point in trying to avoid the enemy fire, because you can't, and it doesn't matter either way since you'll be back and ready to go quicker than you can say "Axelay." There is neither drama nor challenge in a game you know you can't lose.
The graphics aren't anything to gawk at. Though there are plenty of explosions and scrolling clouds and backgrounds, there are no cool effects that solicit a serious "whoa." An art gallery is your reward for beating the game, though it's a poor one next to other games' art.
Same goes for the audio effects. There is no spoken dialogue, except for a computer voice saying the reflective shield is "OK" (which sounds one syllable short of "potato"). The music is a generic rock track which accompanies the action well, but doesn't do much to amplify it.
Final analysis: Giga Wing is not to be avoided like the plague. It's a decent shooter with an innovative feature, and provides some solid action for a short while. Unfortunately, it fails to do anything more, and gives players little reason to replay or even to improve. Give it a go, then give it the heave-ho.
This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Video Gaming Central (CompuServe), 07-Aug-00