Review by askthemaster

Reviewed: 03/24/08

Quite possibly Treasure's greatest game.

Thinking back, it’s actually pretty shocking that Treasure managed to pull off a game as good as Gunstar Heroes as a first release. After all, it was during the same year that the company also released McDonalds Treasure Land Adventure, typically designated as the worst game Treasure has ever made. I think part of what makes Gunstar Heroes such a cult hit today is how accessible of a game it was and still is. At this point the Super Nintendo was busy cranking out their impressive repertoire of Role Playing Games. To this day, my most poignant video game memories are that of playing my friends SNES back when I was a kid and experiencing in full games like Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Lufia 2, and Secret of Mana. But today I look back at all the games I played as a kid with a much more impatient eye, which is strange considering my change in age. I find games that are accessible to be more enjoyable, and Gunstar Heroes delivers on a level of sheer fun factor that rivals that of, say, Mario Kart, a game that my friends and I stills swear at one another over today.

What makes Gunstar Heroes so brilliant is the juxtaposition of it’s simple traditional concept and it’s complex mode of play. As in an other Shoot’em’up game from the nineties, you are small, your enemies are many, and your goal is the right side of the screen, or at least what is as close as can be to it’s reach. The graphics are plush and memorable and the music is uptempo and fun. What first strikes the player about this game is how fast paced it is. It rivals games today for sheer adrenaline, because at any given time, as many as ten or more enemies are on the screen, running toward you at the full extent of their tiny football player legs. They are weak, and they explode into fire when you shoot them. And when you are moving forward very quickly and turning in all directions to get a shot on these walking or flying enemies, your TV screen is mostly likely wishing that it could bleed just so that the scope of this game could be felt in the real world. The game has several difficulty settings, and even seasoned platformer fans won’t find too much safety in easy mode. The later modes can get, in a word, brutal. The remedy for this is the fact that two people can play it at once, cooperatively taking down levels with precision and different guns for different situations.

Which brings me to this games most brilliant stroke of fun… Customization. Ever since Pokemon shattered your piggy bank ten years ago, customization has been a necessity with electronic games. It was at that time that people realized how much it mattered to put oneself into the game to extract it’s true enjoyability. That said, Gunstar Heroes is WAY ahead of it’s time. If the game only contained one or two guns, or even many like Contra, it wouldn’t be half as special. But the game not only provides two different styles of control that deeply effect how the game is played but also four different types of guns, a rapid fire gun, a laser gun, a flamethrower, and a homing gun. That’s four right there. But the beauty here is that you can combine them to create double weapons, combining the elements. That’s six more. Plus the fact that you can combine two weapons of the same type. Four more. That’s fourteen weapons total, all of which have their advantages, disadvantages, and mediums of fun. Beyond this depth, the game just never stops being fun. It also has a fun throwing/melee system which gives the player more options than simply shooting, and it contains about eight levels of nonstop action, fun bosses, and areas that require both skill and know-how to complete. It’s no wonder why Gunstar Heroes has been released so many times; on Game Gear, in a PS2 Treasure Compilation, on the Wii Virtual Console, and with a spectacular Gameboy Advance remake Gunstar Super Heroes… This game stands the test of time. Quite possibly Treasure's greatest game.

Rating: 10

Product Release: Gunstar Heroes (US, 09/09/93)

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