If you are a hardcore shooting game fan, three-man "dōjin" developer Astro Port might ring a bell. This small team has a clear love for the genre and have produced several shooters based on classics from the 16-bit generation over the past decade. It was a bit of a surprise to see an “old friend” pop up on both Switch eShop and in limited edition physical form, but as the passage of time been kind to Gigantic Army – a title which originally launched on Steam back in 2014?
Sadly, the answer to that question is no, it has not. This clear homage to Cybernator / Assault Suits Valken (and its Saturn semi-sequel, Assault Suits Leynos 2) plays almost exactly like the source material but lacks the soul of what makes a mecha game great. We take no issue with the solid 2D platforming run ’n’ gun hybrid gameplay, the amount of action on screen or the barrage of impressive screen-filling bosses the six levels throw at you. But it all ends way too quickly, and even on the hardest setting, it will take you less than half an hour to dash and melee attack (which is ridiculously overpowered, by the way) your way from boss fight to boss fight with very little incentive to do so again.
While the bosses are quite impressive, most common enemies suffer from a bland art style that sadly highlights the homegrown nature of the original release. More often than not, there are actually more interesting things happening in the background than in the main playfield – never a good sign. We also have to address a glaring audio mixing issue; when playing in docked mode every explosion in the game is a dangerous game of “did I blow my speakers and subwoofer this time?” We're unsure if this has been done on purpose, but more delicate audio mastering would have been nice.
There are far worse mech-based efforts on the Switch than Gigantic Army, and we can’t deny the endearing, nearly “kusoge” appeal of this title. The potential is certainly here, yet it is never truly fulfilled. There are quite a number of better options out there within the same price range. We can only recommend this half-hour generic mecha blast-fest curio to the most dedicated hardcore fans of the genre. The passage of time has not been kind to Gigantic Army, but we do hope this is won’t be the only Astro Port game to see a Switch re-release.