Review by RykuXr

Reviewed: 10/05/06

A true classsic and a great action game for the GBA.

Gunstar Super Heroes is probably a game you haven't heard a lot about, which is a sad thing given how good it is. The game before this was called Gunstar heroes and was released for the Genesis back in '93. Super Heroes is the follow-up to that game and has been in the making for a while now. Sure this game is a follow-up to a pretty old game, but that doesn't hurt it in anyway and actually adds a nice touch to it.

Story: The story isn't the main point, and it isn't complex or feature tons of unique twists and turns, but it does a good job just the same. In the first Gunstar game, there were two heroes who fought against an evil god known as Golden Silver or as the God of Ruin (both are used in the game). They do defeat him and the explosion formed four new moons. Super Heroes story is set a few years after that battle, and now they face a new threat as well as an old one that's known as the Empire (no Star Wars jokes please). The Empire is trying to get something off of each moon and using an artifact bring the God of Ruin back to life. The Gunstar's are a codename for the elite team of soldiers that is in charge of keeping the Earth safe.

The team is small, but powerful and has a huge job ahead of them. Sure the story doesn't sound very original or interesting, but later on there are some interesting things to find out and this game is mainly about fighting and having fun. It's mostly pretty average stuff and all, but the story fits the universe perfectly and adds another reason to beat the game. To say anymore about what happens or even talk about some of the items would give too much away, so you'll just have to play the game to find out the rest.

Audio: One thing about Super Heroes is that the music and effects blend in well and sound really good for a GBA game. The sounds including explosions, shots being fired, characters screaming, and even the little, but welcome voice acting sound good and always help enrich a game. There's always some kind of noise going on, which makes you really feel like you're in the midst of fighting a war. While the effects are very good, the music is really just pretty average. Music in the game is the average electronic MIDI files and while it does sound good and fit the game well, you probably won't be remembering the music until you decide to play it again.

Not only is there the great sound effects, but something that's very rare in a GBA game is also in this game, and that is voice acting. You might be thinking that voice acting usually isn't good and is mostly cheesy on the GBA, but Super Heroes actually does a good job. There isn't much voice acting and most of it you hear in the first three levels, but it is actually very good and a really nice addition. Each character has a different voice and tone, which really helps, instead of using the same voice or the same tone for each character. In the end all sounds and effects are nice in the game and help set the mood for what's about to happen, so there's really not much complaint here.

Graphics: If graphics are your thing, then Super Heroes delivers unlike other GBA games. This game has some of the best graphics ever seen on the GBA and many just be the prettiest. Not only do the effects like explosions, bullets, animations, and other things look amazing, but there really isn't an ugly thing to look at in the whole game from start to finish. The character models and designs are unique, colorful, and full of detail that really makes them noticeable. The enemies look great and are pretty varied and there is rarely a time when the sprites are recycled, if any at all and that is a pretty rare thing with a game like this.

The weapons are varied and each look great and have a nice amount of detail, as do the different vehicles that you see and ride on during the game. The background is really well done and always has such high levels of detail that you wonder how long it took them to just make it. Backgrounds are always changing and feature artwork and other things that really stand out and catch your attention, which can be a bad thing when you're trying to kill all your enemies. If you think the regular characters look nice, well you're in for a treat when you see how good the bosses look.

Each boss is highly detailed, and looks 100% different than the last boss and has great animation. Every boss takes up almost the entire screen and is quite impressive and menacing to look at. The bosses unique attacks also look really good and makes fighting them a lot of fun. Graphics are good, but the animation is very well done and almost without flaw. There aren't a lot of different animations, but each looks great, fits the character well, and is smooth. You'd think with all of the enemies, explosions, bullets, and usually utter chaos happening on the screen that the frame rate would suffer, but it holds up all the way through the game and never changes. The artwork is also amazing and really looks great, they did a great job with everything.

Gameplay: If any game was based on gameplay, Super Heroes is it. Before you start the game you have several choices, you choose whether to play as Red or Blue and you get to choose if you want to play on Easy, Normal, or Hard right from the start. There are more differences between Red and Blue than you think, but they're also closely the same. The weapon difference, is that Red has a machine gun that shoots energy, which is called force and Blue has a gun that fires a constant current of lighting. Red's main weapon force is a bit more powerful than Blue's lighting gun, but it's not a huge difference. The animations are slightly different between Red and Blue, but you probably won't notice at first.

In the story sequences the overall story is the same whether playing Red or Blue, but the responses and a few other things are different and add unique personality to both. Once you've chose Red or Blue you can choose the difficulty level, but just to let you know you can only have one file for each difficulty level, so Red can have one on each difficulty and so can Blue. After you beat the game and before you do you can play through any stage as many times as you like, so there's no real issue with only having one file per difficulty level. Other weapons that you have (right from the start) are a fire weapon that shoots, you guessed it fire balls and a chaser type laser that homes in on enemies. You'll always have those weapons and in addition to those, if you tap the B button you can use your sword for a slash attack. Your three weapons have bars about them and each one can get filled up by shooting enemies and bosses.

Once the bar for the weapon is filled up (indicated by it flashing) you can double tap the R button for a super attack that does massive damage and is different for each weapon. The force and lighting guns are the same, they just shoot a big ball of energy at the enemy, the fire weapon explodes and does quite a bit of damage, and the homing laser shoots a huge ball of energy that flies around the screen for about a minute and homes in on the enemies. You can never upgrade your weapons, but you can fill up your gauge fast by getting little containers that have green stars. You can also replenish your health (which never upgrades also) by getting little containers (usually from big powerful enemies) that have little red hearts, and they give you ten health.

Not only will you have your guns and sword, but you can use other moves to take down enemies like your slide, uppercut, and a jump kick that can be executed by pressing the A button and the control pad in a certain direction. This game is a side scroller, but there's so much more to it than that. You will have your normal jumping and shooting running right and left, but each stage and area is different and has it's own theme. You will use every move, weapon, and trick to beat each stage and level, because they are so different and varied. There are six stages in the game and each stage has two to five areas each with a different goal and way that you'll go about it. One area you'll be on top of a ship that's flying towards the screen, and the enemies will be coming at you from the background. You then tilt the ship in the direction you want to and start shooting at the ships and rockets coming at you. It's a really neat sight and something that's hard to describe, you have to see it for yourself.

Other areas (to name just a very few) have you piloting a space ship or a helicopter, where you'll shoot at enemies in front of you and blow them up under you on the ground, while navigating buildings that get in your way, and that's just one part of the stage. The areas are so varied that you are constantly having to learn how to deal with each challenge without getting killed. It gives the game a feel of always being new and awaiting what's around the corner with anxiousness and excitement. In every single stage and area, there are pseudo-3D effects that really add to the game, and they aren't gimmicky. They add a lot to the gameplay, from dodging trucks that come from the background or avoiding missiles and bullets that are heading straight for you, they're used in a very cool way. Not only does every area require new strategies, thinking on the run, and new challenges, but just about everything in this game is original. This has to be one of the most original games not only on the GBA, but on any console too.

If you think fighting normal enemies is fun, just wait until you see and fight the very first boss. Super Heroes has some of the best and most fun boss battles to date in any GBA game ever made. Bosses are huge and take up most of the screen, they each require different strategies and are all pretty hard to take down. Once you've found the weakness, only 1/4 of the battle is over, because these bosses take a lot of damage and planning as well as timing on your part. They are fun and challenging, just the sort of thing that bosses should be in any game. Each stage times you and gives you a score, but don't think it's so easy to get a high score, because killing regular enemies won't get you any points. Only bosses, special enemies and a few other things get you points, and that's a nice addition and makes it harder too.

Features: There are no extras or features, just a great single-player game. You don't unlock secret characters or artwork, but that's okay because you don't really need any of that and it would probably just take away from the charm of the game. It would've been nice to unlock something, but there isn't and that's no reason not to play and beat this game.

Replay: You might think that with only two characters and six stages that you wouldn't play through this game more than once, but you would be wrong. Not only can you try to get high scores and best times on each area and stage, but each difficulty level is very hard and makes you want to go through it again. Also on each difficulty level you'll get a more detailed story, and learn more about the game's universe and it's characters. So, for once there's a reason to actually play through all three difficulty levels and let me tell you, you won't be disappointed. Not only can you learn more story, but another reason to replay this game (with both characters) is the fact that each stage is different and a lot of fun. There's not a whole lot of length in general, but in the end even if you just play a few levels over and over again this has more gameplay hours than some console games.

Overall: If you haven't recently been playing GBA games, or gotten tired of the same old same old, then you have got to try out Gunstar Super Heroes. This game is one of the best GBA games in a while and one of my personal favorites. All sound is amazing in this game ,as well as the effects and even the great, but short voice acting. The graphics are really great, the artwork, backgrounds, effects, and bullets all are close to perfect on the GBA, they will flat out awe you the first time you see them. The story isn't great, but it does a pretty good job of putting everything together nicely. There's so much originality in this game, it makes you wonder why more people aren't willing to do something like this.

Each stage is unique and there's always a constant challenge and a new area for you to play at. Animation is smooth and looks perfect on the GBA and the frame rate is always flowing smoothly. The game is kind of hard, even for people who play these sorts of games, even on Easy you'll have a pretty hard time at first and Hard is exactly that. It may be hard, but it's the good kind and while it sometimes is a bit difficult it fits the game pretty well. Even though it is kind of short, you'll play it and play it, and what's really impressive is that even if you lose, you don't get angry because it's so much fun. So in the end, the gameplay is fast, fun, hard, and always interesting. If you like side scrolling, or heck if you even just like good original games, then I would say go out and buy or rent this game right now, because it's worth every penny.

Score: 8.8/10. Rent It

It's such a good game that you won't want to put it down, and that's the kind of game more companies should be making. Sure it's a bit hard at times, there's no extras, and it is a bit short, but no game is perfect and just because it doesn't have everything right doesn't mean it isn't a good game. Pick this game up and have a lot of fun.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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