Posted By Gabriel B. about 4 months ago
Wrath of the Kaiju! It’s Freeware Friday: Gaurodan,
There are many great truths in life. I will share two of them with you today.
1. Giant Monsters are awesome. It doesn’t matter if it’s Gamera or the Giant Claw; getting to watch skyscraper-sized beasts tear up towns and each other is always a good time. Additionally, games where you get to play as giant monsters are also awesome. The PS2/Gamecube Godzilla games, Attack of the Friday Monsters!, and the Rampage franchise are testaments to that.
What happens when these two truths intersect? You get Gaurodan, the Defender-esque title where you play as a giant thunderbird who’s out to cause mass-destruction and take on other giant monsters in the Canary Islands.
A long time ago, Mankind made an oath with the great bird of thunder, Gaurodan. They promised that they would never reawaken the great bird or his mortal enemy, Guayota, the fire beast. As centuries passed, the oath was forgotten and now foolish scientists have unearthed Guayota’s egg, unwittingly beginning a fight that will not end until one of the giant beasts kills the other.
Gaurodan is an interesting little chimera of a retro-tribute. Graphically, the game is reminiscent of arcade titles that were released in the latter half of the 80′s, while its gameplay is heavily based on the arcade classic Defender. However, the emphasis on giant monsters and destroying buildings to get power-ups brings to mind games like the Rampage franchise. Additionally, while this title is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, the game is also available for the Ouya. Still, odd is the name of the game when it comes to Locomalito, so Gaurodan fits right in with his MO.
What’s also Locomalito’s MO is making a game that’s a lot of fun to play and Gaurodan fits in that way as well. As I stated, the core gameplay is based on Defender. This means you are piloting your ship (or in this case, giant thunderbird) in a finite side-scrolling space. You are always flying and you can change your direction at any time by pressing the right or left arrow key. For weapons, you can attack left or right with a stream of energy either directed at the ground ( ‘Z’) or at aerial enemies (‘X’). You can also gain power-ups and special items by destroying buildings. Each level gives you a set number of targets or enemies to destroy and 99 seconds to pull that off. If you fail to defeat those enemies in the time limit, the army will launch a homing missile that will hunt you down until you destroy the remaining enemies or it takes you out. To further complicate matters, you only have one life and your life doesn’t refill between the game’s ten levels.
The game controls great, with Gaurodan being very responsive whether you’re using a keyboard or a gamepad; something that’s really important for a title like this. In addition to the one-life limitation, you’re going to be darting around hails of bullets. Things get even more hectic during boss fights and battles with aircraft carriers, where large chunks of the screen become kill zones. However, despite this difficulty and the annoying Defender aspect of your ship being unable to stop, the tight controls keep the responsibility of your success squarely on your thumbs.
As for aesthetic and sound, Locomalito and Gryzor87 have knocked it out of the park once again. The graphics and effects are right out of an old Taito cabinet and the sound design and music are fantastic. The sound that plays when Gaurodan first emerges from his egg is gorgeous and the music sounds like it could be heard right alongside Golden Axe. It’s another stellar performance from two talented artists and really helps sell the retro-aesthetic Locomalito was trying to create with Gaurodan.
Other admirable features include Locomalito’s sense of humor and the game’s replay extending features. The first level is actually Gaurodan’s emergence from his egg, which means you are tossing around in an egg, squashing helpless citizens and houses while trying to break out. Additionally, one of the four endings you can get is the banana ending, which can only be seen by collecting banana items. However, what I really like about the game is how precise you can make your reign of terror. Sure, you can limit your destruction to fights with the army and other giant monsters causing only a minor bit of collateral damage… or you can go hogwild and reduce cities to rubble, destroy palm trees, and even pick off individual citizens if your feelings of schadenfreude haven’t been satisfied for the day. If you prefer skill over mass destruction though, there’s also a survival mode you can unlock once you hit 20,000 points on a play-through.
Overall, Gaurodan is another great game from a developer whom I’ve come to gain a great respect for over the past two years. The game is fun, tough as hell, and a wonderful tribute to retro-gaming and solid game design. Whether you want a time-waster on your desktop or need something to play on your Ouya, you need to play Gaurodan right now.
The game can be downloaded HERE. It is also available on the Ouya store.
Freeware Friday is an article series by Gabriel B. that spotlights exceptional indie games that won’t cost you a dime.