I’m a sucker for space shoot ‘em ups—it’s cathartic to just dodge bullets and blast ships for a while. Usually, I can just turn my brain off and go along for the ride, letting reflexes take over. Then developer Puny Human decided to add puzzles to the equation, and my brain was awfully confused. Galacide was originally released way back in 2015, and is just now finding its way onto Nintendo Switch, like so many other indie games. That isn’t a bad thing—the Switch is an indie powerhouse, and the larger its library, the better it is for everyone—for the most part. Galacide, fortunately, is a strange mix of genres—but a good fit for the Switch.
Galacide is a side scrolling shoot ‘em up where you (and friends!) control multiple different classes of spaceship as you fight and puzzle your way through multiple missions. Just like in a normal shoot ‘em up, you’ll be facing enemy ships with blobs and streams of projectiles to avoid. But in a twist, there’s a color matching puzzle game underneath it all. To survive getting crushed, you’ll have to collect different color pieces to make a series of four or more, which makes them vanish. You can inject the colored obstacle with a different color to change it, or merely shoot the piece where it will then attach as its own block.
This puzzle adds a whole other layer to the gameplay, as you must dodge bullets while managing to find the right pieces to use. You can’t grab pieces while firing, and once you have a piece, you can only fire it once that piece has been launched or discarded. It’s not as complicated as this is probably making it seem—but it can get complicated in the middle of a pitched battle. There are four total ships to eventually unlock, and each of them has different guns and special abilities. Unlike some shoot ‘em ups that allow you to keep your upgrades as you get them, Galacide forces you to push forward by draining your experience, and even de-levelling you if you’re too slow.
As far as its shoot ‘em up aspects, they’re solid, but as basic as they can be. Enemies are mostly the same few ship types with the same few projectile patterns. Bosses are interesting, and sometimes require a trick to defeat. The only problem is, without the puzzle aspect, the rest of it is pretty boring. You can’t play the shooting bits without the puzzle bits, but you can play Galacide as a puzzle game if you’d like.
Galacide has a few modes to play—the campaign and endless modes (which unlocks after completing the fourth level), and also the puzzle mode. The puzzle mode ended up being one of my favorite modes. It’s a pretty quick playthrough with only 25 puzzles, but some of them are deviously tricky. The puzzles are divided into five categories which emphasize different aspects of the puzzle solving you might find in the regular game. One category of puzzles even requires precise timing to pull off, and another requires you to avoid lasers that will destroy your ship instantly if you touch them.
Galacide is a good fit for Switch, and plays great in both handheld and docked modes. It does allow up to three other players to join in local co-op, but I never got a chance to test this mode. With no multiplayer co-op, it’s hard to get four people together in these covid times. I can only imagine how hectic it would be with four players.
While a good fit for the Nintendo Switch, Galacide is merely okay. It’s a pretty basic shoot ‘em up while being an okay puzzle game. I really enjoyed its short puzzle mode, but I’d rather spend my time playing Puyo Puyo instead. I’d only recommend playing this if you’re already a diehard shoot ‘em up fan, and even then, the puzzle aspect might be off-putting.
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