Picture a game that looks left at all of the fans clamoring for a new Power Stone game, looks right at the ones who want a new War of the Monsters, and then shrugs its shoulders and says “Why not both?” That game is GigaBash. It’s a 3D arena fighter with a collection of 10 monsters and mechas inspired by classic kaijus and a focus on simple controls, environmental destructibility, and the power fantasy of being a giant monster slamming other giant monsters through skyscrapers. It’s not much more than meets the eye, but its claws are certainly sharp enough to scratch any kaiju-sized party fighter itches.
GigaBash’s biggest strength is how it balances its immediately intuitive controls with just the right amount of depth underneath that approachable surface. Every character has a basic attack and special attack, a charged version of those attacks, an aerial version of those attacks, a charged aerial version of those attacks, and then two unique abilities that are performed by holding block and pressing a button. In addition to that, there’s a button to dodge, a dodge attack to hit enemies on the run, a button to pick up and throw enemies, objects, or even buildings, and that’s it. This ease of play allows GigaBash to fit snugly in that spot every friend group should have as a game where you just hand the controller over to someone with little to no knowledge of how to play, tell them a few quick things, and they’ll have a fun time.
But none of that means that there’s no sauce to GigaBash’s combat. There’s not many playable monsters on the roster – a total of 10 in all – but that’s a blow that’s softened thanks to the amount of depth and flavor coming from each of their unique movesets. Gorogong is a close-range-AOE focused menace, with several moves that hit like a truck and allow him to close the distance, blast an enemy against the wall, and follow up for big damage. Contrast that to a character like Pipijuras, who is slow and has trouble getting away once someone gets in, but can cover approaches both from above and straight ahead with powerful projectiles. And then there’s Gigaman, who is fast and agile, and relies on stringing together aerial juggles to get his gameplan going.
The developers also smartly included a special meter that increases as you deal damage. Once it’s full, you can activate it to turn into a giant S-Class monster for a limited amount of time, which can only be hurt by other S-Class monsters. It’s a great mechanic because it incentivizes you to actually get into the action, even if it means putting yourself at risk of taking damage yourself. The S-Class transformation is a huge power boost, and often the best defense against it is to make sure you’ve got one ready yourself so you can match blows. In addition to the ability to turn into an S-Class monster, there’s also a special Smash Ball-esque item, which will grant an ultimate attack to whoever lands the last hit upon destruction, leading to some fun scrambles.
There’s even a limited training mode called the Gym that lets you practice juggles, learn how to punish enemy attacks, find out which moves will wallbounce an enemy, and so on and so forth. It’s a very welcome addition and helps make the hidden depth of GigaBash much more discoverable.
That said, this is still a party game at heart, and that depth only goes so deep. While GigaBash supports online play with casual and competitive matchmaking for those who want to test their skill against others, it’s the type of game that’s much better suited for local multiplayer with good friends, where these types of unpredictable game changing moments, like a when a defeated enemy calls down a gigantic laser from beyond the grave and melts you, is something that you can laugh at as opposed to get frustrated by.
Another big source of these wild moments is courtesy of GigaBash’s stages, which are chock full of gimmicks and hazards that totally change up how players can approach combat. Historically in games like this, gimmicky stages can be good or bad, depending on how central the gimmick is to the level and how much it affects traditional play, but GigaBash finds a nice middle ground for the most part. One level has an active volcano that slowly engulfs 90% of the stage in lava; another preps a missile in the center of the stage that can be ridden off-screen and then aimed for a big explosion on the field; and another still takes place in a jungle rife with spiked walls that you can stick enemies into and tall trees that you can hide in to try and avoid being spotted by your opponents.
On that note, local multiplayer has a special Mayhem mode that cannot be played online, which is a shame because it’s an absolute blast. Instead of facing off against opponents in traditional fights, you compete in a series of minigames with special twists. Like one that feels like a Kaiju version of Windjammers where you’re only able to fight by throwing UFOs that bounce off the walls and can be caught with good timing; or another that has you attempting to blow your rivals up by knocking bombs towards them in an arena that constricts every time a bomb goes off; or one that has you fighting on thin ice and rewards the last player standing with the victory. There’s a wide variety of minigames that each force you to play a little bit differently, and there’s a great sense that anything can happen and anyone can walk away with a win without things totally devolving into the realm of random chaos.
On the single player side of things, GigaBash is very light. There’s a serviceable four chapter story mode that takes you through the stories of four of the ten monsters, and while it at least features great art and a decent variety of objectives throughout, it’s ultimately pretty dry with a lack of voice acting, predictable story beats, and uninteresting characters.