Gunstar Super Heroes Review

Developer: Treasure Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: October 25, 2005 Also On: None

Few games have a deep, meaningful lasting impact on the videogame industry. Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid, just to name a few such franchises. Gunstar Heroes is Treasure’s oft-overlooked platforming shooter from the 16-bit era. After last year’s successful Astro Boy debut (which received a 9.1 from this site), Treasure has taken a different path, releasing a sequel to the Genesis classic called Gunstar Super Heroes.

First, let me make a quick concession that I’ve never played Gunstar Heroes, so there’s no nostalgia for me when playing this game. There is, however, an excitement that comes from playing such a polished 2D action title. You play as the characters Red or Blue, each with different story paths. Depending on the difficulty you choose (easy, normal, hard), you’ll also get a different story path.

The first level you play is an introduction to the controls and storyline. You’re on the Wakamo Station, trying to defend the 3YE Office from attack by the Empire. Once you reach General Gray (the final boss), he’s already acquired the data he needed to collect the Treasure Gems from your offices. With the Treasure Gems, he can resurrect the God of Ruin.

The first thing you’ll notice with this level is the awesome boss fights that you’ll encounter throughout the game. The first boss fight is rather easy; it’s an Empire robot slamming your ship against the ground, trying to hit your character. You’ll bop around the screen, jump on the ship as it hits the ground, and fire at his hands. The robot will wave his hand in pain as you shoot him in the face.

True to its name, the two characters are indeed heroes, trying to save the world and all from the Empire. Both Red and Blue carry guns, with three different types of fire each, as well as a close-combat sword to melee attack enemies. As well as combat weapons, your character can also jump attack, jump walls, hang from platforms, etc. Pressing R will control the gun’s direction without movement, but you can also run and fire at the same time using the B button.

The first level that I spoke of was the ‘Earth’ level. You’ll go to the four different moons before the game is over, with a personal choice of which ones you complete first. Once all four are completed, you can move on to Moon 5, the ‘Giga Polis’, a man-made satellite of Earth. The last stage is G-Arc, where you’ll reface the bosses and then…you can find out for yourself.

Two things are striking to me. One is that Gunstar Super Heroes has some of the most difficult gameplay that I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve had to put down my Game Boy Advance quite a few times before I came back to beat this boss or get past a certain part in a level. Sure it can get annoying, but levels are conveniently broken up sometimes so that you can immediately start fighting that boss. This relieves a lot of tension that you’ll have with the game.

The second striking thing to me is the variety of gameplay for a pure 2D shooter like this. You don’t just get basic shooting and platforming in this; you also get these pseudo-3D flying levels, where you try to avoid projectiles, a bottom-to-top space shooting level, even some outer space flying and shooting. In one of the levels, there’s almost what can be described as a board game, where you roll dice to land on a piece. Whatever piece you land on will determine what you do.

For instance, let’s say I land on a certain square. I could either be fighting a group of enemies, platforming for health (or to my death), or something else. In one of the sections, you face a giant Teddy bear, where you avoid its attacks until it gets hit by a large truck, lands on the ground, and you attack its head. A lot of things in this game seem weird, such as the duck-collecting level, but it’s all great fun, entertaining, and sometimes humorous.

The brilliant visuals, the charming 2D gameplay, and the Astro Boy presentation are all going to have hardcore fans pulling out their GBA’s. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a must-have Game Boy Advance title, but with SEGA’s release of Gunstar Super Heroes, it’s finally come. From the platform-shooting, to the clever variety, and the excellent boss sequences, Gunstar Super Heroes has “hardcore favorite� written all over it.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 9.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 9.1
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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