Learn how Game Freak Inc’s brand-new IP used a melting-pot of ideas to evolve in a challenging new direction
Hello everyone! I’m the game director of Giga Wrecker Alt. at Game Freak Inc. in Japan – and it’s a real pleasure and privilege to talk about our title.
Giga Wrecker started life through what we at Game Freak call the “Gear Project” – an internal competition or intrapreneurship.
The Gear Project was set up with the intention to seek out and create new IPs by inviting staff to submit original projects. The ventures that passed the screening process could start a new life as an official project for the company.
We are grateful that there is so much interest in the Gear Project, even outside of the company, and thanks to this interest we’re lucky enough to see many new graduates applying for jobs here.
Because the Gear Project is such a challenging system, I think the bold idea of attempting to fuse a physics engine and an action game was perhaps the reason that made Giga Wrecker stand out.
Even before development started, I thought that I was mentally prepared for the challenges ahead – but from the moment we began, we really struggled with the unpredictable nature of the physics engine. To be brutally honest, physics based gameplay can be a bad match for action games that require delicate controls. So rather than trying to bend the will of the physics engine to make a solid yet rigid action game, we took the direction to embrace those quirks instead, as it felt more natural to lean towards their whimsical nature.
As developers, being too obsessed or obstinate about the intended behaviour / strategy of the design would have killed the free and intuitive fun that the physics engine could offer… and also would have totally defeated the original purpose of the game.
We did, however, subtly change its direction in some areas. For example, with the boss battles, the physics simulation is simplified and the action aspects are prioritised instead. Our intention was to intermingle the different elements: a puzzle mechanic that requires solving through trial and error, an action-based mechanic (such as dealing with “collapsing footholds”), and a boss fight that requires action game style skill to defeat.
We always knew that a fully integrated physics engine wouldn’t offer precise actions, but limiting the game to only puzzles would not offer an experience with any tension, either. With that in mind, I think we were able to develop these two seemingly opposing elements and combine them into something that really complimented each other instead.
When Giga Wrecker was still in its early design document stage back in 2013, (the official project started in 2015) there weren’t many games that fully utilised a physics engine in the style of a Metroidvania game – and even now, many typically specialise in either puzzles, or limit the use of physics to effects.
As such, I thought this would certainly be something worth pushing for, and if all went well, I also felt the potential that the game offers could end up being quite unique. In the future, either through the Gear Project or otherwise, I strive to deliver joy and entertainment with even more challenging ideas!