It’s a great time to be a fan of classic 2D video games. While 8-bit and 16-bit consoles fell out of style decades ago, their spirit lives on in indie games like Gunlord X.
Indie developers are churning out high-quality retro-inspired games left and right thanks to companies like the German indie studio NGDEV. Gunlord X is no exception. It’s a fast-paced, high-intensity action-platformer, run ‘n gun shooter, and shmup all rolled into one game.
Originally released as an unlicensed game for Neo Geo and Sega Dreamcast, an improved version is out now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch with beautiful pixel art and all. It’s the closest thing we’ll get to a Metroid/Metal Slug/Contra love child.
Gunlord X both looks and plays great. The 2D side-scrolling levels are mixed well with run ‘n gun gameplay, open-world stage design, varied enemies, and fun boss battles. The game incorporates exploration without the frustration of feeling like you’re constantly getting lost.
Like any good old-school run ‘n gun action-platformer, Gunlord X will challenge you plenty, but the early stages at least don’t feel too overwhelming. All told, there are 11 stages to clear and a whole host of bosses to slay, assuming you stay alive long enough.
The game only gives you three hits and you’re dead. Thankfully, health and shields are littered throughout the levels fairly generously. You can also pick up power-ups that improve your weapon, providing plenty of firepower to combat the game’s many deadly creatures.
Crucially, the controls are tight and responsive. The developers ingeniously implemented a twin thumbstick control scheme where you control your character with the left analog stick or d-pad and use the right analog stick to fire the weapon. In many run ‘n gun shooters, you aim in the direction that you’re moving, but this control setup allows for more accurate fire without putting your character at risk.
The one issue I had was with the camera since you will often not be able to see enemies until it’s too late. Basically, you’re left just anticipating what might be lurking on a nearby ledge or in the stage below. This is pretty standard for these types of games; it’s not really a flaw so much as an annoyance. It’s a pretty minor gripe, all things considered.
Gunlord X clocks in at roughly four or five hours. That’s not too bad, considering the game is only $10. Still, there is not a whole lot of replay value to be had here. I could see perfectionists going back and trying to collect everything or revisiting this game in a couple of years.
Overall, fans of classic run ‘n gun games will fall in love with Gunlord X. I would especially recommend it if you dig classic Metroid and Metal Slug games.
Game Freaks 365 received a review copy for the purposes of this review.