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PAX Prime 2015: ‘Galak-Z: Variant Mobile’ Shows Promise, but Raises Questions

It was a bit of a surprise when Galak-Z was anounced for mobile, just because it didn’t seem like the kind of game that would land on mobile, but I welcome developers trying to bring their cool games to mobile whenever possible. GungHo, the publisher of 17-Bit’s mobile adaptation of the game, retitled Galak-Z: Variant Mobile, had an early playable version at their booth, and it certainly seems like something to keep an eye on. This is a roguelike-style action game, where you command a space fighter that uses Asteroids-esque thrusting mechanics to fly around and blast baddies, complete with objectives to play through in the procedurally-generated world. Dungeons exist as things like abandoned space stations, and often have upgrades if you complete the objectives within.

The controls are a bit complicated – there’s a joystick for rotation, and then the thrust and fire buttons give you the option to slide your fingers up and down on them to fly backward, fire missiles, and use other tricks to stay alive. The game should support game controllers – I was given an emphatic confirmation that game controller support is in the cards, and it’s already got controller support on the Android version. The other big question to ask about the game is if it’ll be free-to-play or not. GungHo is obviously known for Puzzle and Dragons (Free), but they do paid releases on other platforms. 17-Bit and GungHo haven’t figured out what they’re doing on the paid or free front quite yet.

Don’t expect this one until next year, and 17-bit was insistent that this was very much an early version. It won’t be exactly the same as the PS4 and upcoming desktop version, but will have the same basic premise, just adjusted for mobile. Regardless, it seems like it could be a really promising game, especially considering the PS4 version has been so well-received. I could see the controls being a major hurdle for people, though: there’s a lot going on, and it might take a lot of time for this one to make sense to players. There’s a lot of cool things you can do off the bat, but I do wonder just how well this would work as a free-to-play game, as plenty of people might pick it up and drop it once they see the complex controls. A paid release might be ideal – at least then people would have some investment and a desire to see it through if the controls are workable. Naturally, a lot could change until next year – and I’m interested to see just how it all shakes out.