The other day I said that Galak-Z's "seasons" are its difficulty levels, The very next day, 17-Bit tweets...
.@ih8yh @GrimWillows Think of the seasons as difficulty levels! Enjoy the ride! Perfect your technique, it's always a new level anyways!— 17-BIT (@17_BIT) August 12, 2015
I just... find that edifying. Yay me!
And the first few times I played any season, I was getting my ass handed to me. Season 2 was mean, but doable. Season 3 was absolutely brutal compared to season 2, and season 4...
For days, I didn't think I could do it. Most of the techniques and strategies that paid off so well in the previous seasons just weren't tenable in season 4, because - while there's a definitely leap in enemy strength, damage and intelligence between each season - the enemies in season 4 are ridonkulous.
They are artful dodgers, zipping back and forth and holding steady for just long enough to loose a salvo at you that tears off way more of your health than you're expecting. There are mechs in season 4 that will cut through two layers of your shields and shear a chunk of health off with a single blow - it's insane - and I had almost accepted that I would, simply, never beat the 4th season of Galak-Z, and never even get to see season 5 when it drops later this year.
Last night, though, I sat down for some season 3 action. Season 3 is, to me, the sweet spot for Galak-Z's challenge. After beating it, seasons 1 and 2 didn't offer enough resistance to prove thrilling - and the enemies of S3 are still some mean mother (shut yo mouth)s. So I danced through the season, with lots of nice close scrapes and beautiful victories, and finished episode 5 with ten Crash coins.
At this point, I had options. I could either restart a season 3 (or 2, or 1 for shits and giggles) run, or I could bet those ten coins on an attempt at Season 4.
I took the bet, launched season 4, cashed in those coins for over two thousand scrap aaand... nothing. No interesting upgrades. But I was able to get the +1 shield perma-upgrade, and the upgrade that makes my shields recharge faster.
All through that season, I was unable to really deck out the Z. I didn't get the engine upgrades I prefer, I didn't get a single buffs to my mech, and I ended up with a set of laser upgrades I'd either never used (scatter shot) or liked (burst fire) before. But the scatter muzzle, combined with the Huge Blast bullet shape and burst fire... they became very interesting. It let me basically treat the ship as the mech, jamming right into enemies' hostile little faces to unleash a rapid-smack torrent of energy, tearing through shields and hulls like tissue paper.
Everything was going beautifully - well, my health had been whittled down to a single bar, but still, I made it to episode 5! Going in to the episode, Crash didn't have any health to sell me.
I stayed mostly in stealth mode until I fought Crash's shop inside the level - again, no health to sell me! - and did my best to stay off the bad men's radar as I scrounged around, desperate for a single drop of health to see me through the game's ultimate challenge.
I ended up in a fight with three Void Raider mechs, whose swords do insane damage. One went down with me, but a charged slash from another ripped through my shield and took the last of my health.
Bam. Dead on the game's final mission.
Then the continue screen pops up. I had eight Crash coins. Did I want to cash them in on a restart (and hopefully get some better gear!) or bet on the amount of health they'd give me, heading back in to mission five immediately in exchange for five coins, and risk the Recovery Crate run?
When you continue in Galak-Z, you don't just continue. You spend the crash coins and you head back into that level with... nothing - but your health is refilled.
Just your base ship, no laser upgrades, no engine upgrades, no shield upgrades - not even the ability to transform into a mech - because all that is locked away in the Recovery Chest, hidden somewhere in the level. Against enemies who were (at the very least) tough enough to kill You, Master Pilot, you'll have no chance without your gear - so you have to sneak through the level, evading enemy patrols, until you find your gear.
Your gear is always guarded by some mean mother (shut yo mouth)s, and... well - this is what happened.
I have never killed fewer enemies in a Galak-Z mission than I did in my recovery run of season 4, episode 5. Enemy spoilers, obviously.