Review by Ofisil
A very good game that had potential to be an even better one
Gunstar Heroes is a Shooter developed by Treasure and released by Sega. Although inexperienced, Treasure managed to create a great run and gun game, which is very entertaining and introduced some original ideas. Unfortunately although it had potential to be a perfect game there are some problems that prevent that.
The Gunstar family, have always been the protectors of the planet Gunstar-9, (or something), and have in the past managed to extract 4 powerful gems from the body of Golden Silver, a powerful android who used this gems as fuel and that almost destroyed their world. Now a powerful dictator, (who looks like magneto), has sent his right hand, (who looks like M. Bison), to acquire those gems to use the android. These people have also captured a person from the Gunstar family and turned him to their side with the use of mind control. The story starts quite good and had potential for being even better but this is only seen in the manual. In the game you play 4 stages that each one has a boss that holds a gem and then set off to find the final boss.
In terms of quality this game isnt the best game the Mega Drive has to offer but it looks very good due to clever design and detailed sprites. Bosses are large and are composed of multiple parts that are animated individually. The main heroes and villains are very detailed and have a lot of character due to excellent animation and good facial expression. Effects like explosions, beams and transparency effects, enemies and backgrounds are all quite simple and surely nothing you havent seen before.
I expected much better music from such a good game with very intense action, instead Gunstar Heroes has very typical music that doesnt help improving the atmosphere. Sound effects are much better but again nothing special.
This game is the typical run and gun 2D sidescroller, you jump, run and shoot enemies that appear from every possible direction and in this game enemies come wave after wave and never stop. There isnt much variety when it comes to enemies, almost all of them are simple android goons that come towards you, grab you or shoot at you. What makes this game special is the weapon modes. You there are 4 weapon types a simple rapid shot mode, a flame thrower, a beamed shot and a homing weapon that locks on enemies. Your gun has two slots where this weapon types can be inserted. While playing with both slots filled you can switch between the two weapon modes or combine those two and have mix of both weapon modes, like a homing laser or a double homing shot, etc. This feature makes the game very entertaining and makes you try different combinations each time you play.
Another great thing about this game is its level design. The first level is the typical shooter. In the second one you control a cart that moves extremely fast in a tunnel and is able to move in the ceiling too, in the third you try to climb a tower as fast as you can to reach a plane before it escapes and the fourth has a board game where you roll a dice and move in the board where depending on where you landed an event occurs like a simple battle, a room with items or the boss fight. Along with these first stages the rest are different and original too, there is even a stage where you control a spaceship just like in any sidescrolling shooting game. Another thing is boss fights. At the end of each stage you fight with a boss that requires very skillful play and clever studying of each bosss move and attack pattern.
The game is very challenging and has three difficulty modes. The higher the difficulty the more enemies you encounter and the more moves bosses are able to do. Set aside the good stuff, this game is a bit short and linear. The only reason to play it again is to increase the challenge or try different weapon combinations.
-Great weapon combinations
-Great boss fights
-Each level is much different from the previous one
-The 2-player mode is very good
-The plot had potential but it is only used in the manual
-Linear and a bit short
Contra 3: The Alien Wars (SNES)
Metal Slug 1-6 & X (Arcade)
It is one of those games that with a little more work it could become a true classic. It has a good plot that it doesnt use in the actual game, it has great level design but only a few stages, it has a great weapon combination system but lacks enemy variety. Frankly, I enjoyed this game very much, in fact after playing it once I was ready to give it a solid 10/10, but after repeating the whole thing and observing more carefully its flaws I have to say that it is just a very good game that had the potential to be an even better one.
Product Release: Gunstar Heroes (EU, 12/31/93)
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