Monday, September 10, 2012

Memory Lane: Gunstar Heroes

Every so often there is a game someone plays that is so beloved, that it becomes something more than a simple game. It becomes something special, hard to describe. In this Memory Lane, the returning Humor Tumor shares some of his thoughts on one of those games that is beloved by him, and many others: Gunstar Heroes.

Gunstar Heroes: there's something about this game that just makes it so goddamn amazing. Being quite possibly my favorite game from the Sega Genesis, I still remember very fondly playing through this game repeatedly, by myself or in co-op. It quickly became a game I knew inside and out, and one I sought out to get on the XBLA as soon as I had an Internet connection.

One of the best features of Gunstar was the weapons, and how they combined. With 4 different weapons the game gives you quite a variety of weapons and helped change up your strategies. Close range powerhouse, long range bruiser, there was an option for anyone. Add in the other choice of stationary of free form firing (ie, one you stood in place to shoot with more control, the other made you more nimble but less precise), and a massive arsenal of close combat attacks, you had every tool at your disposal to cause as many Michael Bay style explosions as you could with a friend.

A pictorial summary of Gunstar Heroes

The co-op was something to behold, using teamwork to maximize the amount of destruction you could unleash was a joy. If you had a cruel streak you could even play catch with an enemy soldier, tossing him back and forth between you and you partner. The best part would be that if you didn't catch him...

That's right, he'd explode.

That explosion is from one person if I remember right

Not to mention the game was hard, but that perfect kind of hard that was nigh unseen back in those days of olde. I can remember tackling the final boss, Golden Silver, with my brother. And getting anxious and tensed because the fights would get so intense it would put me into a gaming bliss. I don't think I can think of a recent example of a game that could do that. It was truly beautiful. And with a soundtrack so gorgeous and an art design so damn good, you couldn't help but feel you were playing an amazing game. It's truly one of those games I will love forever.

Each level was a standout, and quite a few took different turns to change up the pace. From a frantic minecart ride, to an intense space battle, and a devious board game; Gunstar Heroes was constantly doing something that shifted the gameplay. And the boss battles are amongst the best I've seen. The duel with a Fascist Colonel, a fight with your own brother, and the final encounter with Golden Silver; everyone is memorable and a blast to play. But what was great was the action never let up, and it never felt tedious. It does make me a bit sad that the series hasn't been revisited since Gunstar Super Heroes on the GBA.  But then again, I couldn't imagine anyone hitting all the right notes as well as the original Gunstar did.

If you've never played this game before, I would highly recommend that you do. It's truly one of those older masterpieces that has aged perfectly. A classic in every regard.

Goddamn it, I love this game...

Humor Tumor is currently on a Kirby kick. Don't be surprised if you read about him in the paper for trying to inhale people to inherit their powers...