GBL Obscurity Corner
Gunstar Super Heroes (GBA)
Gunstar Super Heroes is a sequel of the classic run and gun game, Gunstar Heroes on the Genesis/Mega Drive (also ported to the Game Gear). These games were made by Treasure who have also made games like Dynamite Heady which is also on the Genesis/Mega Drive, Guardian Heroes, and Ikaruga just to name a few. I will be focusing mostly on Gunstar Super Heroes so don't expect many comparisons between it and it's predecessor. So here is the review.
The story takes place many years after the first game in which a powerful android known as Golden Silver (known by many as the God of Ruin) is defeated by by a group of heroes called the Gunstars (called Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green) when it tried to destroy the planet Earth. After it's defeat, it explodes which results in four moons being created. As many years passed, the people of Earth began colonizing them and an era of prosperity and peace began. However, a fifth moon eventually appeared amongst the initial four. This moon was also mechanical. It was a base for the organization known as the Empire that was responsible of the revival of the then previously dormant Golden Silver. The now-rebuilt Empire which is under the lead of General Grey (who is much like the one in the first game), now intends on using the stones that are Golden Silver's power source called Treasure Gems to revive him once more. However, another organization called 3YE (The Third Eye) has taken notice of their activities and have an elite unit of operatives take on the Empire and put a stop to their plans. Being successors to the original heroes, they name their group the "Gunstar Super Heroes".
The goal of the new Gunstars is to stop the Empire's plan to so they decide to try to find all the Treasure Gems before the Empire can. It is revealed that each gem is on one of the four moons spawned from Golden Silver's explosion and are regeneration spots for each of the four gems. It is possible to revive Golden Silver if the Gems are introduced to his body (although Golden Silver did explode, apparently his body is still intact). Most of the stages indeed take place on the moons as you try to obtain the Gems who are in the possession of allies of the Empire. They are characters who seem to be a lot like the ones in the previous game (although it is clear they are not they are not the same ones although Blue mentions that it seems to be déjà vu that they have to face similar adversaries as their predecessors (even having the same names [Pink, Kain and Kotaro, Orange, Green with his Seven Force relic, Black, and Smash Daisaku). This whole game actually is a lot like the Gunstar Super Heroes in terms of level similarity, title screen, plot points, and similar bosses. I know it's a sequel but still, this game takes reminiscence in a sequel to a whole new level, resulting in a strange sort of plot hole even the character Blue mentions regarding similar characters to the first and how they could be alive and not age after the 100-year long gap between the first and second game (yes, that long). By the way, the Green in this game also joins the Empire and uses the Seven Force and the character Red in this game is a girl (according to the US manual but is left ambiguous in the Japanese version but as far as I am concerned, Red is really just the tomboy-type and that is why she has a rather androgynous appearance).
Gunstar Super Heroes is a run-and-gun game. Each character has three set attacks. With different attributes
Force (Red only): Machine gun-like shots of plasma energy
Lightning (Blue only): Laser-like shots of electricity
Fire (Both) : Fireballs that explode and have short range but are powerful in close range
Chaser (Both): Laser shots that are weaker individually but weapon has good rate of fire and homes in on enemies
These weapons can be switched at any time by pressing the L Button. Each weapon has different attributes and certain ones can favorable in certain situations so experimenting is a good idea. There are also shoot-em-up levels but these are really self-explanatory and the controls don't have nearly as much depth besides turning directions with the L and R buttons. I will focus on the run-and-gun aspect since it's the primary gameplay. Obviously, the A Button is to jump and the B Button is to shoot. Holding the R Button will result you shooting at a fixed location and still change your aim but holding the B Button at the same time will result in you shooting in a fixed direction but still being able to run. You can also do melee attacks. You can attack with your sword by tapping the B button. All the other melee moves like the Rising Uppercut and the various kicks are used by making presses on the D-pad in certain directions and then pressing the A button which can be done midair, standing, or hanging on certain ledges. They are not that hard to figure out so keep experimenting with presses with the D-pad and A Button. Your health is shown in numbers (the amount you start with depends on the difficulty selected to start the game). Lose all your health and it's Game Over and you get kicked backed to the title screen (which can be very annoying) and have to start the stage all over again. Also, there is a meter called the Supercharge meter that fills up as you get special pickups (which I will get to later). When it's full enough (it flashes). You can do more powerful, Supercharge versions of your attacks that cost energy in the meter. It's useful against stronger enemies/bosses. One more thing to note is that there are both health and Supercharge pickups you can get in the game that increase both your health and Supercharge. Unlike many other games out there where you just need to touch the pickup, you have to push down and the B Button just to get it. They disappear after a while if the came from defeating an enemy or destroying an object so it can be be very annoying to obtain pickups in this game. But overall, the game is a lot of fun to play, especially if you like run-and-gun games like Contra or Metal Slug.
For a GBA game, the graphics look great! The animations in-game and the overall look to it is pleasing to the eye. The explosions from your attacks and the many enemies in the screen to defeat reminds me of Metal Slug. Even with all the activity on the screen, I personally did not experience any slowdown while playing the game which is a big plus. The graphics are overall just sweet!
When it comes to the music, there are some pretty nice tracks in this game. It is taken heavily from the previous game and remixed to this one. As a whole, it sounds nice. There are also a few voices in the game. Besides the yells of Red and Blue while fighting as well as some enemies, many of the adversaries met in the game including the bosses have a least one line that is is actually voiced but the dialogue of the game is primarily in text. It's weird to me to hear audible lines in a GBA game and they do sound all right considering the system this game is on. Also the sound effects are all right. Nothing too special. Overall, the sounds in this game are impressive and are worth noting.
In conclusion, the game is a good run-and-gun game that is sure to please those who like to see a lot of action in a GBA game. My only real gripes with this game are
1. The story is rather convoluted especially since plot details have confusing changes when the game is played with the all three of the difficulty levels and played with Red and Blue (resulting in six different variations of the story). Also with the setting details mentioned before, it results in a rather confusing story.
2. The difficulty can spike in certain parts of the game and I find there are some cheap and over-the-top parts in the game that are hard in a bad way. And again, when you die you start the stage all over again which again, is very annoying.
3. The game is short. With it only having six stages, it's possible to play through it under an hour if you are good at it.
Despite these issues, this is a fun game that is one of the most satisfying action games on the GBA I have ever played. I will give this game an A-. That is it for this review. Hope it was informative.