Galak-Z is a 2D shooter set aboard a spaceship that can transform into a mech. Think Gundam meets PixelJunk Shooter and you can probably put together a pretty good image in your head. Now add some cool alien enemies and tons of upgrades, give it a classic action plot, and you’ve got one hell of a space shooter that will leave you yelling in anger or howling with delight as you burst into flames or bring down the bad guys.
You’re in space behind enemy lines, your ship is damaged, and you’re the last pilot left. This is the perfect beginning to any retro action movie. The scenario coupled with a pause menu meant to resemble using a VCR works very well to bring some nostalgia to Galak-Z. The game itself is laid out like a TV show, comprised of episodes and seasons. Every episode is a somewhat randomly generated level, and there are five in a season. If you die before the season is over, you have to start from the beginning with crash coins being the only item carried over.
Crash coins are used in two ways. At the start of each season, coins are cashed in at the shop for 250 credits each. If you have five crash coins on you when you die, you have the option of spending them then and there to earn an extra life. Be warned: if you choose to do this, all of your upgrades are now found somewhere within the level, and you need to find them or lose everything. This can be pretty huge if you’re on the final level and have to go in empty handed instead of armed to the teeth.
“You’re in space behind enemy lines, your ship is damaged, and you’re the last pilot left. This is the perfect beginning to any retro action movie.”
One of the best parts about Galak-Z is the upgrade system. Each level holds chests containing ship upgrades, laser upgrades, or blueprints. Ship upgrades come in a wide variety, with either defensive or offensive capabilities. Some are pretty standard like getting an extra health bar or increasing missile capacity, while others like immunity to lava and fire, or a whisper engine can completely change how you tackle obstacles. The laser upgrades are equally important, but you can only equip one option in each of five slots: muzzle, bullet shape, fire pattern, element payload, and bullet special. This allows you to change your lasers into a variety of projectiles, creating sniper shots or a wide spread of pellets.
A few of the upgrades come standard, but when you start the game most items can only be found. Once you find blueprints, you can then purchase the corresponding item from the shop. This is a handy way to not only enable progression but give you something to keep working towards even after you’ve finished each season. It’s a bit trivial but unfortunately there’s no achievement for unlocking every item in the shop. It was small things like this that lowered the score. No season five yet, lackluster trophies, and some bugs were Galak-Z’s biggest problems.
While bugs weren’t terribly frequent, they were certainly present. A few crashes and a weird sort of lag where the game would hang for a second and then catch up to itself were the main offenders, with the game actually crashing right after I finished season four. I was terrified my data would get corrupted but fortunately the only problem I had when I rebooted was a weird inability to control the start menu, forcing me to reboot again which fixed the issue. Nothing game breaking, just annoying. Definitely worth dealing with in order to play this game.
“Galak-Z does a great job of proving why arcade shooters can still be quite fun. The crazy flight controls feel good, enemy variety is spot on, and the laser customization really lets you shoot the way you want to.”
While there were a decent variety of enemies to fight, I flew through the first four seasons once I got the hang of piloting and spending currency wisely. Finding out that the fifth season isn’t available yet was pretty disappointing, as the rest of Galak-Z does a great job of proving why arcade shooters can still be quite fun. It’s worth picking up, but a little more content just would have been perfect. Hopefully season five is either free, or not too expensive.
Galak-Z: The Dimensional is a fun way to kill a few hours. The crazy flight controls feel good, enemy variety is spot on, and the laser customization really lets you shoot the way you want to. Any fans of older shooters like R-Type should have a blast, but you don’t need to totally get the retro vibe 17-Bit was going for to enjoy Galak-Z. It does well enough to stand on its own, and finds ways to keep you playing the same episodes over and over without feeling repetitive. That’s good design.
*** PS4 code supplied by the publisher ***