Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Gunstar Super Heroes / Gunstar Future Heroes review

In the age of 3D game - where 'photorealism' is a highly sought after 'art', games often fall down on where it matters - the gameplay and pure unadulterated fun. This remake of the Treasure's 1993 classic Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in the US) 2D side scrooling shooter, Gunstar Heroes aims to rectify that.

Thanks to Treasure, many of you kids who has missed out on the glory years of 2D shooters, can now experience such wonderful gameplay that has always been lacking on 3D shooters. This isn't a simple port. It is a remake that bettered the original in almost every other way. Sprites has never looked more wonderful on the Gameboy Advance and the only other game I can think of that has better 2D graphics is Castlevania: The Dawn of Sorrow on the NDS platform.

The original game has stood well against time and with time like wine; the game has aged rather gracefully. However not many people has access to a Sega Mega Drive so the closest you can ever enjoy such a game is getting this. It does not matter because like I said, this version is much better. Forget Metal Slug Advance, this is the most ferocious action pack shooter on the GBA since Astro Boy: Omega Factor (also developed by Treasure). The graphic really does push the GBA to its limit with rotations, scaling and zooming all combined with explosive actions that grace just about every single animated pixel.

The sound is wonderful for a GBA game. But play on the surround equipped NDS and you will notice that it could have been better. That doesn't matter it is still awesome. The game itself is pretty short. You can look at about 1 hour of game time to complete the whole mission with a single character but that isn't the point. I remember replaying Contra and Prince of Persia countless of times and both never bore me. This won't too. Trust me.

You have access to two characters, Gunstar Blue and Gunstar Red. Both are very similar, the only differences are mainly cosmetic as well as some weapons. As well as charged weapons, both can dragon punch and slide kick.

Gunstar Green sprite sheet (more here)

Niggles aside (of which there aren't that many) this is a wonderful handheld game that aims to evoke memories of a time where we do not have to use our left brain. There are no yellow keys to find, no pseudo and cheesy voice over to allow our ears to suffer upon. Put it this way, Gunstar Future Heroes (UK title) is 500% more enjoyable than the last two 3D fps I played on the PC (Quake IV and F.E.A.R.) put together.

The original Gunstar Heroes on Mega Drive. (image source)

The only problem with the game is the rarity. You only have to blame the lack of publicity and the consignment of GBA games at the back of GAME and Gamestation stores (while the PSP section - mostly riddled with UMD films are on the front) for the rarity (in the UK). Even I had to search the local indie store up and down only to find a used cart to boot.

Wonderful 2D graphics. The best looking sprites you will ever see
Great gameplay
Lacks depth

Lacks the two-player mode of the original
Lacks depth (but who cares)


Buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK


Anonymous said...

This game is so rare I have to download it to play it!

Anonymous said...

One of the best games on GBA. Hopefully Treasure rolls out Gunstar Heroes 3.