Despite an attempt to do something (slightly) unique with this most traditional of genres, Gaiabreaker stands as a disappointing shoot ‘em up that is almost as boring to play as it is to look at.
It’s competent in its own way, but with little of the visual pyrotechnics that the genre is famous for and even less of the imagination that singles out the finest in the field, Gaiabreaker subsequently stands as a substandard shooter with little reason to exist beyond the novel use of the GamePad.
In fairness, playing Gaiabreaker on the GamePad and having it set to play in a vertical field ala the arcades is actually quite novel and if nothing else, gives me hope that other shooters (those of a higher quality) will follow suit in that respect, but other than this nice little addition, there is very little else to recommend about this criminally boring shooter.
It does try to do things a little differently from the bullet hell shooters that now crowd the market, but the decision to keep movement limited to the horizontal plane not only limits your movement, but also limits the patterns of enemy attacks to relatively predictable and largely boring arrangements.
This enforced limitation does imbue the game with a pleasingly old school aesthetic and a nice change of pace from the infinitely more hectic shooters from the likes of Cave, but with this slower pace comes the potential to take in your surroundings, and with that comes only disappointment. Technically this is a poor game with some unforgiveable slowdown, but worst of all, it’s simply unappealing from an artistic standpoint. Nothing has been created with any sense of imagination and nothing comes close to sticking in the memory.
Like the movement, the attacks are purposefully limited as to give the game a unique feel, and again, while the lack of bombs and power-ups does add to that old school vibe, I’d be hard pressed to say that it added anything truly positive to the experience. With only basic attacks and slower but more powerful homing attacks available from start to finish, the impetus is on the enemy design and attack patters to justify the design choice and to work in harmony with the limited attacking options. Sadly, while the game does feel balanced, it also feels decidedly boring with those limited attack patterns combing with the extremely limited art design to create what is essentially a very limited shooter.
Basic Miiverse integration does add a degree of longevity, but with only a handful of stages to get through and little reason to replay them beyond sneaking your way up the relatively sparse leaderboards, Gaiabreaker actually offers little reason for its existence beyond the novel use of the GamePad. Despite its honourable intentions to do something a little different, Gaiabreaker sadly stands as a disappointingly bland and ultimately forgettable shooter.
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