I enjoy a good arcade game. When I went to Sangawa in Pittsburgh, PA, and they had a room filled with classic arcade cabinets. I played Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Pacman, reliving the glory of 80’s gaming. They weren’t pretty to look at, but they were fun to play. Galak-Z, from 17-Bit, hearkens back to 80’s gaming and pop culture with a shiny coat of modern graphics. I played the game as part of a live stream and a couple hours more to make this review, and my initial reaction remains, it’s a great appetizer but not an entree which isn’t a bad thing. The story of Galak-Z follows A-tak, Beam, and Crash, after the Imperials kill all the Rebel pilots leaving A-tak to do the one thing he knows how to do.
Disclosure: This review was written using a press copy of the game.
The game then kicks you into procedurally generated levels in different points of space to face imperials, space insects, and other gruesome galactic goons in the quest to stop the empire and trick out your sweet ship. Like with most space shooters, you can upgrade your ride with different lasers, missile systems, etc to fight foes with more efficiency than your base pilot setup. Unlike most space shooters, you have to actively search space for blueprints for your upgrades, or the upgrades themselves. This will give you the edge on the enemies you’ll come across, but also make exploration outside of the objective markers essential to getting the best build. Then when you get into an actual dogfight, it’s fun and fluid after you get used to the controls. Oh, and did we mention that your spaceship turns into a mecha?
As we mentioned, the game calls back to a lot of 80’s culture. The art style itself feels like the love child of Flash Gordon and Gundam. That was something that really attracted me to this game, the game had a style of a 80’s sci-fi and played to that theme perfectly. The art style and writing make it feel like that you are playing a campy 80’s TV show. This makes for a beautiful game that will keep you visually pleased as you pump imperials full of plasma bolts.
So, what’s the negative? As I said during the live stream, Galak-Z feels like a casual game even though it holds itself as a hard core and difficult game. At the time, I thought that was a a mark against it, but after having more time to play it, I realized that it’s perfect as a casual game. Much like the shows it emulates, Galak-Z: The Dimensional is meant to be played episodically like you’d watch Gundam. Sure, you could beast through it, but you’d just devour through a game that’s meant to be enjoyed in sprints, not a marathon. Pick it up when you’re on a train, in queue, or tired of the hardcore grind. It’s perfect in that wheelhouse.
If we really wanted to discuss the faults of this game, I’d point out that the game doesn’t really do anything new with the space shooter genre. It gives it new paint and some fun nostalgia, but that doesn’t make it new. There are also some UI and graphical nitpicks, but those are nitpicks, so hardly game breaking. I found it fun, and if you, like me, enjoy the old arcade classics and the 80’s, then there’s a good shot you’ll enjoy it too. Til the next review, this is your captain signing off.