Modernizing and innovating on the classic shoot ‘em up genre is a tall order, but will Qplaze’s latest twist on the formula, Galaxy Warfighter, satisfy our burning need for more shmup goodness?!
Obfuscating a Classic
Innovation in game design is something that all creators hope to achieve. I mean, taking a core concept, elaborating and/or iterating upon it is key when combating the “insert genre here” fatigue. Of course, there also needs to be a balance. Change too much and you risk obfuscating what the original was. Do too little and you may as well just recreate what has already been done.
Shoot ‘em ups are one such genre that definitely suffers from the much maligned “it’s been done” syndrome, but it’s also a genre that has a ton of room for innovation! In fact, it’s a blank canvas for lots of fun and interesting mechanics that can spice up the typical move and shoot dryness.
Well, Qplaze with the help of Joybits are launching their modern take on shoot em up shenanigans, Galaxy Warfighter, on the Nintendo Switch and Steam. But is there beauty in simplicity or does its lack of complexity make it feel like there’s something missing?
A Significant Omission
Primarily being a mobile game developer, it’s no surprise that Qplaze would try to take a shoot ‘em up and simplify it in such a way that it’s easy to pick up and play, but also accessible to a wide range of gaming tastes. Which is more than admirable! But in order to do that, they stripped away one of the quintessential mechanics of a shoot ’em up – the shooting!!
Now, when I say that, I don’t mean they literally removed the shooting in the game, what I mean is that they took the necessity to hold or press a button to engage your shooting action. That may not seem like a big thing, but when it’s 90% of what you do in a game, it kinda feels significant. Now all you’re left with is moving your ship in line with an enemy until it dies, or in the rare instance you run into one of the bullets, then you’ll die. Well, at least you’ll take damage. Honestly, it kinda made it feel like a runner disguised as a shoot em up.
Best In Small Servings
That being said, once I got over not having to press a button to shoot, it really wasn’t that bad. With the addition of an upgrade system that gives you access to more fire power, health points and a handful of additional abilities like time stop, helper drones and a shock wave, there was definitely a draw to keep playing. There are also some single use ability icons you could pick up, which will give you either a temporary power boost or some sort of offensive attack. So, that adds a bit of variety to the gameplay as well. However, the more and more I played, the more tiresome it became.
It’s boasted that Galaxy Warfighter has 100 different stages, but when you only encounter 10 different types of enemies and 4 total bosses that are randomly selected at the end of each stage, the tedium becomes demotivating. I mean, I fought the same boss five times in a row! Not only that, but the enemies are uninspired and down right boring to fight. They simply float on by waiting for you to hit them, and occasionally shoot out slow moving and easily dodged bullets. At least the further you get the more hectic it becomes and the more enemies you’ll have to face at once. Additionally, their attack patterns seem to become more aggressive, so if you do manage to stick it out you’ll have a good amount of challenge to look forward to.
Short of some gorgeous pixel art backgrounds, Galaxy Warfighter’s presentation doesn’t do much to hold your interest for long periods of time either. There’s only one music track during gameplay that’s repetitive and forgettable. To top it off, like their attack patterns and AI, the enemies as well as the bosses have unimaginative designs, that when repeated ad nauseum, just hammer home that sentiment.
Simple and Mobile
So, although I may have been a little down on most aspects of Galaxy Warfighter, I think there’s still fun to be had. It did feel like the game was built with mobile in mind, so that may be my issue, but if you jump into it knowing that, I think you’ll be fine. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t recommend playing it for long periods of time, but in short bursts it definitely has its merits. At $6.99, the price does seem a bit steep so you may want to wait for a sale, but if you’re in the mood for a relatively simple and easy to pick up and play shoot em up, I think you could do worse.
Release: April 16th, 2020
Nintendo eShop: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/galaxy-warfighter-switch/