Review by SireAzmodan
This is, without a doubt, the most stupendous game of its time
Before I begin this review, some things need to be said right off the bat. First off, I am a HUGE Contra and Metal Slug fan - they rank in my top favorite games. This Genesis classic, however, makes both of those games look unplayable! I would also like to mention my opinion of this game was determined by playing for only ten minutes, and was justified further by playing more. This review is very often going to be comparing Gunstar Heroes to Metal Slug and Contra because of their similar gameplay, as well as the fact that this was essentially Sega's own unique adaption against two of its biggest competitors: The Super Nintendo and NeoGeo. In other words, to see how well Gunstar Heroes stacks up in each category we appreciate in 2D shoot-em-ups that made the other two games legendary, as well as how it holds up on its own.
Let's get to the review now, shall we?
For its time, these are some amazing graphics, and truly shows off the capabilities of the Mega Drive. Just like other games in the genre (most notably Super C) there's a lot of stuff going on, but it's all illustrated gloriously in this game. If something's coming at you, the old "I didn't even see that" excuse isn't valid with this game. To be honest, this game holds its own with a lot of 2D games of today in terms of graphics, not to mention the gameplay! There really aren't very many games as old as this one that can do that, but it just goes to show that the Genesis is often under-appreciated.
The sound track is really good, but it feels just a little too happy when you're going around killing dozens of enemies every 3 seconds. Nonetheless, the music itself is very upbeat, and well-orchestrated for a game that's almost 20 years old, but I feel it's lacking the epic feel a game like this deserves. Pop in The Terminator on Sega CD and you'll know exactly what I mean.
Not too easy, not too hard. I find this game to be harder than most of the Metal Slug games, but easier than the Contra series. I would describe its difficulty as the perfect blend of the two, having the ease to simply pick up and play like Metal Slug, but also requiring the practice and know-how of a game like Super C. Amazingly enough, with the vast fire-power you acquire, the challenge is always able to keep up with you, and that tells me right away that the programmers of this game were on the freaking ball! This game is fast-paced, but not so much so that you ever feel confined, nor that you would ever need to keep strafing ceaselessly.
The control is absolutely perfect, in every sense of the word. It moves smoothly - even more smooth than Contra and Metal Slug! Unlike in those games, you're incredibly agile, and the controls truly do help in conveying that. You can shoot in any direction you want, and to top it off you can slide, rebound off the side of the screen, dodge with ease, and have a blast with all of it!
Like I said before, the gameplay is very smooth. You have complete control over anything and everything that the character is capable of, and unlike Super C, frustration is nigh impossible. Instead of getting fed-up with getting massacred at certain parts, I had no problem playing certain parts again and again until I got it right. When you get past a hard part, the gaming experience itself makes the trial worth it - a rare trait in a video game, to be sure! I really can't explain too much more about the gameplay without comparing it once again to Contra, which I'm mentioning so much it's almost two reviews in one. It's traditional to its genre, while adding some innovations that worked really well in making it stand out among the Genesis' library of great games.
Replay Value: 10/10
Take away my Mario, Zelda, Diablo, Ninja Gaiden, Metroid, Megaman, Contra, Kid Icarus, Sonic, Gears of War, and every other game I have worth mentioning, and leave me with only this. Trust me, it'll make little difference to me. I could play this game for weeks on end without ever getting tired of it.
Classic gameplay, despite above innovations
Your character is agile
You can change between a more stationary game experience and a more mobile one
Very interesting weapon variety
Impeccable sound, and while it could be bettered, it certainly does not need to be.
Playable over and over again
I honestly cannot think of a single downfall in this game. The closest thing to a bad thing for this game is that it's not exactly easy to find these days. It might be on the virtual consoles now, but if not, it really should be!
I highly recommend this game to anyone that hasn't checked it out yet. This game is just too much fun, and is a must-have for any Genesis fan, alongside Shinobi, the Sonic games, Strider, and Streets of Rage. In this humble gamer's opinion, it far surpasses them, which is no mean feat.
Product Release: Gunstar Heroes (US, 09/09/93)
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