GALAK-Z: A 16-Bit Space Shooter for the Next Generation

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GALAK-Z: A 16-Bit Space Shooter for the Next Generation

The very definition of “shooter” has changed greatly over the past decades – what once described classic 16-bit arcade space shooters now refers to modern first-person tactical combat shooters. We at 17-BIT want to merge the best of both worlds for an all-new type of adventure!

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Classic arcades were once packed full of great spaceship shooters – they were the hottest genre around, with a million awesome variations from R-Type to Gradius to Pulstar. As time has progressed, there are still a handful of shmups on the market, but most of them take the classic form of wave after wave of unthinking enemies singlehandedly bent on flying by while trying to shoot you, as you navigate a field of projectiles – also known as “bullet hell.”

The modern shooter has many more tactical options – through the power of modern AI, you can fight entities that are almost as crafty and cunning as real human opponents: enemies disengage from combat to allow their shields to recharge, call for backup, and provide covering fire for their teammates. We wanted to bring this same level of challenge from the very latest high budget-shooters back into a 2D spaceship world, for an all-new type of experience inspired by these two classic genres.

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I really like Far Cry 3 – so here’s how it relates to our game. The enemies in Far Cry 3 have vision cones, and can hear you if you are scuffling around too close to them. There are various types of cover you can use to avoid detection, but if you’re spotted, they’ll shout out your location. This leads to tactical planning, and trying not to be caught in the open by too many enemies; you choose how to engage, losing line of sight to briefly heal and recharge, and head back out into a finely honed tactical combat moment. That’s exactly the kind of experience we’re bringing to GALAK-Z. These enemies prioritize not dying over serving as bullet fodder, and support each other through covering fire and calling for backup.

Our enemies are out on patrol, so you’re never fully sure where you’ll find opportunities to engage. We have massive cave systems, and elements of the amazing Metroidvania style of gameplay, married to very brutal, physics-based, cutting-edge dogfighting combat. Without having to fight a 3D camera, the player-to-game connection is a perfect zen-like bliss state of combat!

We really wanted to do something visually firmly rooted in the classic sci-fi anime worlds of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Classic, genre-defining anime like Starblazers/Yamato, Robotech/Macross and Gundam defined my childhood, as well as classic spaceship arcade shooters of the time, and GALAK-Z is being designed to take as many visual cues from this era as possible. It’s a fun world with great characters that we look forward to sharing with everyone soon!

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We have all this power, how do we push it to the maximum? At first glance it’s “just” a 2D spaceship shooter, so where is all the power of the PS4 being harnessed? Most objects in the world have physics, so crashing into asteroids will send them flying out of your way. Enemies explode and slam into each other. A sentinel’s sword swipe can send you flying into a dangerous bunch of living cave spikes. This is a world full of mass, weight, timing, and all kinds of great new combat encounters. With all this horsepower we are able to do almost every effect as a massive particle system featuring hand-drawn sprites, resulting in a beautiful hand-drawn look that is being procedurally generated every time you shoot a laser, explode an enemy or blast your way through an asteroid field!

This game has been a long time coming, since we’ve wanted to play in this space (no pun intended) for a very long time. The classic spaceship 2D shooter is rarely revisited with modern tech and gameplay innovations, and it turns out it’s a fantastic formula, combining great elements from modern gaming and classic gaming for a phenomenal, organic combat-adventure experience.

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