Review by The Manx

Reviewed: 11/29/04 | Updated: 12/22/04

Zap! Zap! BOOM!! Die, robot pig dogs! Ahahahaha!

On the surface this game sure never looked like much, just another run, jump, blow up the bad guys and save the universe platform game. Gee, never seen one of those before. But it was a good sign when I realized it was a game done by Treasure, the same company that produced the legendary and nearly universally acclaimed Guardian Heroes. Sadly, Treasure no longer seems to be among us, but they cranked out some quality stuff while they were here...

Plot wise Gunstar Heroes doesn't exactly shine, I won't lie to you. You control one of the Gunstar brothers, the one who can move while shooting or the one who can shoot in any direction but must remain immobile while doing so. You're trying to stop the evil (and generic) Empire, who are after the gems which will allow them to activate the indestructible nihilistic fighting machine Golden Silver. Obviously you don't want the bad guys to get their hands on such a powerful weapon, so to stop them you'll have to take on the Empire bosses like Green, brainwashed older brother of your character, Orange, a bruiser with an armspan the same as a bald eagle, and Pink, who with her henchmen oddly reminds me of Lady Grandis and her henchmen from Secret of Blue Water (and after a little web searching it seems I wasn't as crazy as I thought for noticing this!).

The game begins Mega Man-style with you picking a boss to tackle and then heading out to their stage to prevent them from bringing back one of Golden Silver's power gems. But first, you have to find them, and to do that, you have to blast your way through a literally endless assault of robot foot soldiers. This is where the game distinguishes itself: you can mix and match four different kinds of guns to get different results. Some work better against different kinds of enemies, and some work better for certain kinds of players than others. It's a lot of fun to try out the different combinations until you find your favorite. And you'll be glad for the impressive firepower this game puts at your disposal when you find yourself up against one of the impressive bosses, of which there are many, and most are pretty unique. My personal favorite is the parody of that much-maligned hero of his own self-titled Turbo Grafx 16 game, Bravoman :).

The customization you're allowed is what really makes Gunstar Heroes worthy of notice among the seemingly endless array of similar games for the various old-school consoles out there. Well, and the solid controls, interesting and varied styles of game play, lively graphics and sound, and presentation that manages to be equally dramatic and comical when it needs to be.
The presentation was probably one of the most compelling aspects for me, as I've played a fair number of cartoony games in the past, but it's been a depressingly small number that tried (as well as succeeded) to be dramatic and grown-up when it would've helped the game immeasurably to do so.

Gunstar Heroes is the game to come to if you want a game that will push your Genesis to its limits, if you want a game that gives you something that goes above and beyond what the plain old shooters you're used to give you, if you want a game that's just fun to play and replay for hours on end.

Rating: 8

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