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Gunstar Super Heroes (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Gunstar Super Heroes (Game Boy Advance) review

"Gunstar Heroes. At this point, simply mentioning the name brings gamers to their knees, much in the same way a former quadriplegic does when Pastor Benny Hinn slaps them in the face. Treasure crammed as much awesome as they could for the little Genesis game that tried. "

Gunstar Heroes. At this point, simply mentioning the name brings gamers to their knees, much in the same way a former quadriplegic does when Pastor Benny Hinn slaps them in the face. Treasure crammed as much awesome as they could for the little Genesis game that tried.

So leave it to a company with a more rabid fanbase than Squaresoft and Konami combined to throw together a cynical, half assed "sequel" (or side-story. I don't think Treasure ever got their stories straight) that doesn't just slap the fans in the face, but delivers a sharp, swift kick to the groin as well.

But before I get into the negative parts of this game (and there are a lot), I'll come up with a few positives. One, the graphics, for the most part, look excellent. Two, it's at least playable, especially considering that it's a Game Boy Advance title. Therein lies a problem: when I played Gunstar Heroes twelve years ago, I don't exactly remember the game as "decent" "alright" "eh, it's not too bad" or "at least it's playable." Gunstar Heroes was like whoa. It was Contra with more explosions and really good music. In other words, far from mediocre.

The ability to combine your weapons, throw your enemies, counter enemy attacks (ex. throwing a bomb back at a group of soldiers), and pretty much anything that you remember liking about the original is now gone. In its place is an immobile helicopter and a hideous attempt at ripping off Metal Slug.

Much like the first, you begin by choosing one of two playable characters, Gunstar Red or Gunstar Blue. But very much unlike the first game, there's not much of a difference between the two; There's no Fixed Shot or Free Shot here. Instead, Red is slightly faster than Blue, who is slightly stronger than Red. Oh, but wait: Red is a girl this time around!

Since there's no free or fixed shots this time around, the game has two fire buttons: B for free shot (running and shooting at once), R for fixed shot (staying in place while firing, but being able to shoot in eight different directions). This is actually a good idea, and is much more practical than the old guards' "hold down+A to change firing modes."

And rather than combine two weapons, you get to select (on the fly) three different weapons which, as far as I can tell, have no actual difference besides a cosmetic one. Each is accompanied by a meter, like a Super meter from a fighting game. When this meter is full, double tapping R allows you to fire a super-charged weapon that, despite not really looking all that super-charged (it looks like you're firing a fire extinguisher that looks like a bazooka) and not really being all too useful (way too slow to move the gun from one side to another while firing), does manage to do particularly nasty damage.

With melee attacks and throws now out of the equation, the Gunstar SUPER Heroes now carry knives to attack things up close. Thankfully, the aerial kicks are still in there, in addition to a new uppercut move (up+jump) that is amazingly useless (starting to sense a theme here?) and leaves you very open to attacks.

With your new moves and weapons, you begin the game. At first, it's just like you remember it: lots of running, jumping and shooting of Love-Love dancing robots. But after a while, it starts getting boring. "Wasn't I just here?" will be a question on your mind, for certain.

The next level (level one, the previous level was the prologue), features the worst effect of Mode7 graphics in existance. In a painful homage to Sega's Flicky, you run around a room saving little birdies and avoiding unkillable plant...things. But as you move, the room starts to spin, doing a very good job of disorienting you and laughing at you as you fall directly onto the plant thing you were trying to avoid.

Yes, it's sad when Treasure, the most universally beloved development group in the world, is resorting to ripping off Mo Hawk and Headphone Jack in the first freaking level.

Then you get to level two.

The game immediately goes from mediocre to complete and utter crap. In an attempt to copy the first game's spaceship sequence (a horizontal shooter sequence that was meant to be a change of pace from the running and explosions), level two begins with a vertical shooter sequence inside a helicopter. But rather than your standard vertical shooting like something out of the Aleste series, you get a slow moving monstrosity that you have to turn with the shoulder buttons and whose air-to-ground bombs have such ridiculous range you have to be directly over the target.

As anyone who's played a shooter knows, a slow moving ship is a death sentence, as is being a large target. Combined with the massive amounts of bullets and enemies coming at you at once, means you will be cursing at yourself for buying the game/downloading the rom image.

Then the boss of the section appears. Firing massive, hard to dodge lasers while the ground based minions constantly fire at you (which means bombing them is a hopeless endeavor) results in even more cheap deaths than the rest of the stage. I've taken standardized tests in Nazi Torture that were less painful. You know, the kind where YOUR FUTURE IS RIDING ON YOUR ABILITY TO COMPLETELY FILL IN A BUBBLE, and the room was so dead quiet that the only thing you can hear was the fat kid's awkward breathing and your own self doubt.

But once you get through that mess and back into the regular game (and admittedly, the next levels aren't nearly as bad as the first two), you begin to contemplate playing a different shooter (most people would've said suicide there, but this game isn't quite on that level). Maybe one that isn't a shallow mockery of a game that you once liked. If I wanted to knife people at close range, I'd play Metal Slug. If I wanted a game where it was easy to completely mess up a jump because I was firing upwards beforehand (meaning I do an uppercut instead of jumping), well, I don't want that type of game, so nevermind.

Don't kid yourselves, folks. This isn't the same game you all loved over a decade ago. It's a sequel to a game that never needed one in the first place, and you'll find yourself saying that quite often during the course of your boring journey.

hmd's avatar
Featured community review by hmd (July 18, 2006)

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