THESIS

Unlike the large majority of games which primarily exist to be good games, Battle Garegga has a thesis which flows through every facet of the game’s design:

You can do anything, but everything has consequences.

As you play, this thesis is continually reinforced. The weapon system gives you precise control over both where you want to fire and how much firepower you want to use. The scoring system is discrete enough to let players choose the opportunities they wish to take. Even the story, wherein a pair of engineers unwittingly empower a vicious regime through their own creations and now must stop it by their own hands, has a strong individualistic streak running through it.

You can do anything, but everything has consequences. Which leads to the second rule of Garegga: take what you need and make the most of what you have. While Garegga is rather famous for having a dynamic difficulty system integrated into every element of the game, this inclusion is necessary for giving the gameplay meaning. Allow the player to greedily collect powerups without consequence and there would be no downside; much like in CAVE games, the powerup would become a mandate instead of a free choice. Likewise, start the game at full power and the game would need to be rebalanced around that expectation. You could no longer choose to power up for specific situations in order to get the upper hand before dying and slinking back under the radar. You could no longer dictate the rules of engagement; you’d be forced to fight every situation straight-up.

But this also reveals one of the beauties of Garegga: your wits can make up for where your reflexes fail. Troublesome bosses can be crippled, and annoying enemies can be bombed or sealed or fought from behind—often with no direct penalty. Yes, at some point a compromise will need to be made, but you can plan around when and how that compromise will occur. Garegga is a game that rewards thoughtful play, and a bit of reflection and planning can dramatically swing the odds in your favor.

Of course, this all would be meaningless without kickass level design to bring the possibilities out. So let’s dig in!