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GALAK-Z: A 16-Bit Space Shooter for the Next Generation

Jake Kazdal's Avatar + Posted by Jake Kazdal on Jun 10, 2013 // CEO/Project Lead, 17-BIT

The very definition of “shooter” has changed greatly over the past decades – what once described classic 16-bit arcade space shooters now refers to modern first-person tactical combat shooters. We at 17-BIT want to merge the best of both worlds for an all-new type of adventure!

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Classic arcades were once packed full of great spaceship shooters – they were the hottest genre around, with a million awesome variations from R-Type to Gradius to Pulstar. As time has progressed, there are still a handful of shmups on the market, but most of them take the classic form of wave after wave of unthinking enemies singlehandedly bent on flying by while trying to shoot you, as you navigate a field of projectiles – also known as “bullet hell.”

The modern shooter has many more tactical options – through the power of modern AI, you can fight entities that are almost as crafty and cunning as real human opponents: enemies disengage from combat to allow their shields to recharge, call for backup, and provide covering fire for their teammates. We wanted to bring this same level of challenge from the very latest high budget-shooters back into a 2D spaceship world, for an all-new type of experience inspired by these two classic genres.

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I really like Far Cry 3 – so here’s how it relates to our game. The enemies in Far Cry 3 have vision cones, and can hear you if you are scuffling around too close to them. There are various types of cover you can use to avoid detection, but if you’re spotted, they’ll shout out your location. This leads to tactical planning, and trying not to be caught in the open by too many enemies; you choose how to engage, losing line of sight to briefly heal and recharge, and head back out into a finely honed tactical combat moment. That’s exactly the kind of experience we’re bringing to GALAK-Z. These enemies prioritize not dying over serving as bullet fodder, and support each other through covering fire and calling for backup.

Our enemies are out on patrol, so you’re never fully sure where you’ll find opportunities to engage. We have massive cave systems, and elements of the amazing Metroidvania style of gameplay, married to very brutal, physics-based, cutting-edge dogfighting combat. Without having to fight a 3D camera, the player-to-game connection is a perfect zen-like bliss state of combat!

We really wanted to do something visually firmly rooted in the classic sci-fi anime worlds of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Classic, genre-defining anime like Starblazers/Yamato, Robotech/Macross and Gundam defined my childhood, as well as classic spaceship arcade shooters of the time, and GALAK-Z is being designed to take as many visual cues from this era as possible. It’s a fun world with great characters that we look forward to sharing with everyone soon!

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We have all this power, how do we push it to the maximum? At first glance it’s “just” a 2D spaceship shooter, so where is all the power of the PS4 being harnessed? Most objects in the world have physics, so crashing into asteroids will send them flying out of your way. Enemies explode and slam into each other. A sentinel’s sword swipe can send you flying into a dangerous bunch of living cave spikes. This is a world full of mass, weight, timing, and all kinds of great new combat encounters. With all this horsepower we are able to do almost every effect as a massive particle system featuring hand-drawn sprites, resulting in a beautiful hand-drawn look that is being procedurally generated every time you shoot a laser, explode an enemy or blast your way through an asteroid field!

This game has been a long time coming, since we’ve wanted to play in this space (no pun intended) for a very long time. The classic spaceship 2D shooter is rarely revisited with modern tech and gameplay innovations, and it turns out it’s a fantastic formula, combining great elements from modern gaming and classic gaming for a phenomenal, organic combat-adventure experience.

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15 Comments

1

+ aznexcav on June 10th, 2013 at 7:33 pm said:

Am I the only one excited for this?
Look cool and fun


2

+ PrimeroIncognito on June 10th, 2013 at 7:46 pm said:

@ aznexcav

No you’re not.

I like the looks of it too.


3

+ detictiveconan on June 10th, 2013 at 8:17 pm said:

I’m super exited for this, I LOVE shumps.
I love the way the ship moves!
I really wish this was a Vita game, Sounds like it might be a bit too much for Vita though.


4

+ FeddeCampo on June 10th, 2013 at 9:13 pm said:

16.bits and still being great, why not to love it?? :)


5

+ Wozman23 on June 10th, 2013 at 9:30 pm said:

Love the art direction and animations.

While people continue to complain that the Vita has no dedicated content, the promise of having all PS4 titles playable via remote play means you can play it where ever you like. It, like cross-buy, blurs the line between console specific releases. I for one envision spending a lot of time enjoying the indies on the Vita.


6

+ ThreeLeggedFreak on June 10th, 2013 at 9:51 pm said:

I would like this better on vita to be honest.


7

+ Neil on June 11th, 2013 at 1:02 am said:

Anybody who’s a friend of 8-4 is a friend of mine. Will buy.


8

+ Kchow23 on June 11th, 2013 at 1:50 am said:

Looks wonderful!


9

+ Elvick_ on June 11th, 2013 at 5:26 am said:

@3: That’s why I never assume something would magically just work on Vita. Who knows (in terms of just gamers) if it’s even possible? 2D =/= simple

I’d love this game on Vita if possible. If not, PS4 is just fine for me. Whatever works. :p


10

+ detictiveconan on June 11th, 2013 at 6:52 am said:

I just remembered this morning that PS4 Is supposed to be able to Remote Play all games onto the Vita.(and not be all laggy and crap like PS3) So I guess if/when I get a PS4 I’ll be able to play on it that beautiful OLED Vita screen.
(But I’d still like a Vita version if it’s technically possible.)


11

+ gus_xl on June 11th, 2013 at 8:00 am said:

ugh… I know I’m going to spend way too much time playing this game..


12

+ reson8er on June 11th, 2013 at 8:56 am said:

This was one of the coolest reveals for me. I love shmups and to see one take the stage at E3 was terrific. Looking forward to picking this up :)


13

+ Welmosca on June 11th, 2013 at 11:26 am said:

Cant wait….this is just my type of game…since PS1 I loved all the ships games I used to play a lot in arcades too…thats why in my opinion Super Stardust HD is the best PSN game.Looking forward to this game.


14

+ plaztiksyke on June 11th, 2013 at 12:07 pm said:

Looks fantastic! Stealth is shooter, a la Wing Commander Privateer sounds *amazing* to me.

One of my first PSN downloads was Blast Factor, a fantastic looking shooter with co-op play. Will this game have co-op play?

Another amazing thing about Blast Factor was the incredible surround-sound audio, and the amazing dynamic range (not just loudness) and directionality of the explosions when a level would be cleared. (This is why I still prefer playing Blast Factor to Super Stardust.) Are you guys planning to to meet/exceed that level of audio quality?


15

+ Gorkinlot on June 13th, 2013 at 3:02 pm said:

I need this.


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