I was raised on a steady diet of mecha-related content. With shows like Voltron and Transformers fueling my imagination working in tandem with games like BattleTech or Zone of the Enders providing the opportunities to live out the fantasy of piloting such power machines, it’s safe to say that I have a high appreciation for this particular branch of science fiction. The game we are about to review takes some of the tropes found within mecha and pokes fun at them while attempting to create an experience worthy of the heritage. This is our review of GALAK-Z: Variant S for Nintendo Switch.
Like many other indie or mobile developed titles, the Nintendo Switch has found itself the home to a wide range of obscure or previously released titles. GALAK-Z: Variant S falls into an odd place on the outskirts of this category as echoes of the GALAK-Z series date back to 2013.
Self-described by developer 17-bit Studio and publisher GungHo as a “space-shooting action RPG experience,” GALAK-Z: Variant S put you into the boots of A-Tak, roguish pilot of the GALAK-Z mech and GALAK-S starfighter. Joined by a sassy robot named Bitsby, A-Tak and team must fight back against bug, pirates, the Imperial empire, and rogue bots across seventeen sectors. It would seem like friends are in short supply in these parts. Don’t worry: in GALAK-Z: Variant S, friends can be bought. More on that later.
GALAK-Z: Variant S plays with the concepts of warfare in space by creating a zero gravity environment where momentum and perfectly timed thrusters can fight for you… or against you if you are not careful. You have forward and reverse thruster of both GALAK units and a dodge maneuver in the GALAK-S which allows you to make speedy turnaround or simply avoid enemy fire. GALAK-Z on the other hand is slightly less agile, but there are energy shields for that.
Each mission has a variety of enemies and environmental challenges, so you will want to make sure that you have the right equipment for the job. Hidden within each sector are relic from the past to be discover, researched, and equipped on either the GALAK-Z or GALAK-S frames, boosting everything from thruster speed to durability to damage output. If you don’t get the parts you are looking for the first time, play some earlier missions again. You might just be able to find what you are looking for!
Along the way, you will also find, craft, or purchase extra Bots which will give you offensive and defensive bonuses. The Bots also have experience bars and be upgrade through Bot battles or through sacrificing a Bot to fuel the experience of another. The latter is a good option when you get doubles of the same bot or when you have a more rare bot with better buffing abilities. Bot battle pit you against the Bots of other players, helping them hone their skills while upgrading the Bots accompanying you into the fray. I really like the Bots system; they are quirky and have some fun flavor texts.
But war costs money and resources, which you will find scatters across space. You will collect Salvage, Bot Parts and Crash Coins – the three currencies used in GALAK-Z: Variant S which will help you on your mission. Salvage will assist you with ship repairs and purchasing or researching upgrades, Bot Parts will allow you to craft extra Bots, and the there are Crash Coins. Crash Coins are an in-game currency that can be purchase with real world money.
Let’s talk about how these micro transactions with in GALAK-Z: Variant S.
Crash Coins are used to speed up timers, purchase consumable XP bonuses and Salvage, reset Bot Battles, buy random Bot from loot boxes, and purchase extra inventory space for those Bots. Crash Coins can be purchased in the Nintendo Shop in a variety of denominations, starting with twelve Crash Coins for $.99 USD all the way up to one thousand Crash Coins for $49.99 USD. Crash Coins can also be earned as you complete achievements, unlock the mysteries of the relics you find along the way, and as you complete missions. However, they are a bit slow to earn.
To put into perspective the cost of these in-game items which Crash Coins are used for:
Those twelve coins that you can purchase for a dollar will net you 5000 Salvage. That sounds like a lot until you consider that it may take you around 450 of that Salvage to repair your GALAK units before they are field ready. This purchase isn’t necessary, you could wait until the daily auto-repair kicks in. Another example of perspective would do the Bot capsules. When it comes to purchasing Bots from the Luxury Bot Capsule – a loot box which might get you an Elite-class Bot… or another copy of that Common-class Bot you already have… they cost 45 Crash Coins.
Unfortunately, the rate of Crash Coin collect and their associated cost this is not the thing that concerns me the most for GALAK-Z: Variant S. While the game is free and no content is gated, per say, the difficulty curve makes bars it behind items which will help you succeed or the thing that is most troublesome to me: timers.
These timers communicate that GALAK-Z: Variant S would either have you spend less time in-game, delaying your progression purposefully or have you spend real world money on it to continue playing. This isn’t blatant as some titles I have played before, but it is a poor model that punishes players who would like to immerse themselves in the experience.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with in-game currency provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Last Encounter, Galak-Z: The Dimensional