Home 606 - Gunstar Heroes

606 - Gunstar Heroes

Best Games - Gunstar Heroes

Even before you press start on Gunstar Heroes, you know you are in for something special. There is a propulsive energy to the opening cinematic that sets the tone and the game keeps that same pace for the duration.

Gunstar Heroes is a run, shoot, jump, kick, slide, fly, roll dice, and throw action game released for the Sega Genesis/Mega-Drive in 1993. The waning days of the 16-bit era. The Sony PlayStation was about a year away, and many development studios were neck deep in learning the new 3D game technology, but developers who had been working with 2D sprites and FM synth were at the height of their power. Gunstar heroes probably couldn’t have been made any earlier or later.

Up until this point, there had been countless run sideways and shoot games released both for home consoles and in arcades. At first glance, Gunstar Heroes appears to be just another one of those. And it is. Sort of.

All of the verbs I listed above are for real. You really will find yourself using a very robust jump kick mechanic in this shooting game. You really will opt to close some distance so you can execute a hip toss on an enemy rather than hanging back and using your weapons. You really will fly, and you really will roll dice. Gunstar Heroes is relentlessly inventive. There are new fun ways to play every few minutes. At one point, the entire game changes to a space shooter for a while.

The modular weapon system offers no fewer than ten different ways to annihilate your enemies. Mixing a homing with a fire weapon, or an electric blast with a rapid fire make for extremely satisfying action. And there are no duds in this list. Every single combination feels, looks, and sounds great.

If you said that Gunstar Heroes does nothing new, nothing truly novel, you would be right. Anything that happens here can probably be found in another game. Likely many other games. But, no other games do it all. No other games successfully maintain the same breakneck pace while still feeling cohesive and consistent.

Treasure developed a lot of fantastic games in their time, but Gunstar Heroes might be their strongest showing. It is, after all, one of the best games.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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