Sometimes you have to come to terms with the fact that you were not born in the period that would make you the best version of you that you could be. Having come into gaming post-NES and being a lover of Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario World as a youth, I never properly tested myself against the toughest games that were around. Part of that might be because I had no idea what a Contra was at the time. What I am getting at is that I am that kid who blames his parents for not making life tough enough for them. They should have just bought me Mega-Man and that is it. Let me hate life until I won or quit games altogether and focus on being a pro footballer. I can say with the utmost confidence that neither of these incidences happened.
Now that we have set the stage, let’s talk about Galak-Z: The Dimensional. Galak-Z is a roguelike spaceship fighting game based on 80’s anime, including the almost necessary mech to make the description apt, from 17 Bit Studios. The game is divided into five seasons, each of which contains five episodes. If you die during an episode you have to start over from Episode 1 of the season. There isn’t much story to cling to but adds flavor I suppose.
First off, the game is gorgeous. The color pallet mixed with the cel-shaded aesthetic gives it that really cartoony look that gels with the theme. The look also helps make the numerous visual clues the game gives you pop. With a game as challenging as Galak-Z you need as much help as possible to keep your ship in one piece. A sound system is attached to the AI meaning when you boost there is a blue circle around you telling you where enemies can hear you. The enemies also have a cone of vision where if you fall into it they become aware of you. You can tell the level of awareness based on the color. Once again, lots of clues of what is going on. The game certainly feels good to play as well, once you get a hang of things that is. So you control a ship, or mech later on, and learning how to manage the momentum of space travel. At first, as you’d expect space travel to be, the transition is rough with you slamming into cave walls while Imperials make you feel foolish as they blast you out of the empty void. Once you understand how to use the momentum to your advantage a significant aspect of the learning curve is conquered. After that, all you need to do is learn how to play the game smart.
Here is where Galak-Z reminds me that I am terrible. I, Sam DiMascio, am an abysmal video game player who should never be allowed to hold a controller. Galak-Z at its core is a game about strategy. What I have learned after sinking hours of my uneventful life into this stressful game is I don’t know how to balance controlling my momentum and the strategy that is necessary in order to have a modicum of success. Don’t put together a good strategy early and often? Welp you’re gonna die. Maybe not on Episode 1 but on Episode 4 you could have really wanted Before you actually get into the meat of episode you have to glide through the open space cluttered with some asteroids where there tends to be a few baddies hanging around in your path. Thus, before you can even attempt to complete the objective you have to decide whether you want to run away as fast as possible or risk taking damage in a useless firefight in the barren landscape. Each time I try gliding by the baddies and I manage to go by undetected I shed a tear. Another tear is shed once I get halfway through a series of caves only to find mechs with swords and bazookas guarding the object you need to blast into bits. I have tried taking them out almost head on. I have tried luring them away. I have tried my best Muhammed Ali impression with the rope-a-dope. None of it works. The issue does not lie in the strategies. There is only so many ways you can tackle the situation. No, the issue is with me. I have now come to accept that I am a no good gamer who would never survive in an apocalypse that involves driving a spaceship through alien territory. That won’t stop me from trying to get better. I know I am not the only absolutely abysmal Galak-Z player and that certainly eases my pain. I have conquered Bloodborne by learning the systems and using the systems to my advantage. I will conquer you Galak-Z. You will not break me though I may have to find out a way to break you.
UPDATE: About 30 minutes after writing this up I decided to capture some screenshots for this piece. Somehow I started doing well. Like, real well. Whether that be me managing to obtain the right upgrades or actually being somewhat decent, I defeated Season 2 with full health and plenty of missiles to spare. I am not a father but I assume this moment was comparable to holding newborn child for the first time. My life (hours of play) had built to that moment. Now Season 3 seeks to destroy my desire to continue gaming.
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