Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Wish List: Gunstar Heroes Edition

Well here I am again. Due to some minor prodding...ok no prodding just a message from a friend saying that they wanted Gunstar Heroes. Well who am I to deny you reading about me gushing over one of my top ten favorite games of all time from all platforms.

I remember buying this game from Babbage's (before they became GameStop) shortly after it came out. I also vaguely remember it not being popular at all and it got reduced in price pretty damn fast to unload it. I also believe this is when the Genesis was at the end of its life cycle and the Saturn and Playstation were just around the corner. Ah 1995. What a good time for gaming.

So Gunstar Heroes is a tale about people named after colors fighting to save Gunstar-9 from a cybernetic organism named Golden Silver who was shut down ages ago. Golden Silver wants to devour all of our resources and leave G-9 a lifeless husk. Now The Empire discovered how to re-activate the threat and are looking to use G.S. to conquer Gunstar-9.

Nuh-uh says Red & Blue (player 1 and 2 respectively). The Gunstar Heroes don't back down. The Gunstar Heroes don't care if you're hungry. (I have to stop watching that damn Honey Badger video...)

Well helping the Heroes out are their sister Yellow (who gives mission help) and Professor Brown (who is formulating a way to shut down Golden Sliver). Apparently four gems power up Golden Sliver to its full power have been discovered and its up to Red & Blue to stop the Empire from succeeding. Little do they know their older brother, Green, is aiding the Empire (but he has amnesia and doesn't remember his family and that he is also a Gunstar Hero).

So its off on a non-stop action packed adventure. The game controls similar to most side scroller shooters out there. Eight directional shooting with four different weapon types: Force, Lighting, Chaser,Flame. All are the basic types of weapons in a cartoony sci-fi shooter (rapid fire, laser, homing shot, flame thrower). What made each weapon cool was that you could combine the types to produce new weapons of mass destruction. For example Lighting + Chaser produced a homing laser that would stay on a target until destroyed (or until you let got of the attack button). While two Force shots produced a powerful and very high speed rapid fire that could mow down most baddies in a few seconds. It was fun mixing and matching to get combos that worked well for your own play style.

I also liked when playing co-op two player you could interact with each other. A great example would be picking up and throwing my partner at a group of oncoming enemies. Now that doesn't seem very fair but the thrown player slams into them with a powerful flying kick destroying all in his path. And then its back to the shooting.

And then there were the bosses of the game. There were alot of bosses in this game. Black (pictured above) fought you in a robot suit that had different attacks based on the color tiles on the floor. And to reach him you had to play a dice game where you rolled a d6 and moved up the board and only by landing on his piece did you actually get to fight him. Otherwise you fought some other weirdly imaginative boss.

See? Weirdly imaginative bosses. The most notorious boss was one in the mine cart stage called 7-Force. He was Green's personal mecha that had, you guessed it, seven different forms to fight you. From a giant gun, to running green robot, to a bird and even a laser spewing sea urchin looking thing it was incredible to behold. There was so many moving parts, everything was just fluid in motion. It was impressive what the developer Treasure was able to squeeze out of the Sega Genesis processor.

So the game keeps impressing on all fronts for me. The graphics are big bright cartoony pixels, the art direction is vibrant and colorful, the sound is spot on for the game (music and sound effects) and finally the controls are picture perfect. If you die in this game due to the controls you are lying to yourself. It was user error not the controls. It all worked. It was F-U-N.

Now the game spawned a sequel of sorts years later on the Game Boy Advance (GBA) called

It was somewhat a sequel but not quite if you were American. The Japanese storyline for Gunstar Heroes is a bit different and this is the sequel. The American storyline....not so much. It felt like a re-telling than sequel. But it was very good none the less.

The graphics were improved from the original as the GBA seemed more powerful than the old Genesis. And the boss battles were also still big and epic too.

My only gripe was playing it on the GBA and not having a control pad in hand and looking at it on a large screen. I did have a Gamecube and the GBA adaptor but the Gamecube controller just sucked to play a action title like this on. I needed the Genesis pad.

Verdict: still fun. But Gunstar Heroes was better.

All in all I would love to see Treasure get back into this series and do a proper sequel. Next to the GBA game the original has been re-released multiple times all the way up to the current gen consoles. It just goes to show just how much the game got right if they can keep releasing it over and over again to a newer audience.

But I want a big budget sequel done by Treasure. Using the full power of a X360 or PS3. I want the boss fights on a enormous scale, big booming soundtrack, fast paced high action sequences and it still needs to be a 2D side scrolling shooter.

No 3D. 2D only.

So get to it Treasure! Your cult classic game with a rabid following wants a real deal sequel! I know a few folk who would pay good money for it.

And while you're at it, how about a follow up to Guardian Heroes.....