This is the third in a six-part retrospective of legendary game developer, Treasure. Click here to read more.
This is the sequel I was born to play. I have been waiting for this game to be released since I played the first in the series, Gunstar Heroes, on the Sega Genesis, over ten years ago. In October 2005, twelve years after the original's release, it finally arrives... Do you know the pain of waiting?!?
But it is here on the current leading 2D gaming system, the Gameboy Advance, which somehow has become my system of choice thanks in large part to Treasure's support. While the game has improved graphically, small, but very crucial, changes have been made to the gameplay that ultimately effect the entire game experience for better or worse, depending on how big of a fan you are of the original's gameplay style.
The button system is simple like before, just adding a fourth button for special moves, which is new to the series. Gone is the option of picking up weapons while going through the levels. Instead, you are restricted to three weapons (in the original, you could carry two) which are assigned to your character from the beginning of the game. Also, anyone who is familiar with the original also remembers that you could combine the weapons: Well, now you cannot. Only one weapon can be used at a time, which is a disappointment because it limits the level of diversity, player options, and strategy that existed in the original.
What is kind of funny about Gunstar Super Heroes is that the developers purposefully reworked levels from the original just to show how much the graphics have improved. But that is also where one of my main gripes for the game comes in. Gunstar Super Heroes, in many respects, feels like an enhanced version of the original. As a result, if you have played the original, a lot of it is going to feel familiar. Many of the initial levels that you play feel too much like the original game. And, although you will likely enjoy the feeling of nostalgia, if you are a huge fan of the first game, like myself, you are going to be disappointed because you expected more original levels than what is provided. Seeing how the original game did not sell as well as it should have and deserved, this level issue will not be noticed by the majority of players because they never played the original.
Finally comes my biggest gripe--throwing has been removed. If you read my review for the original Gunstar Heroes
, you know that the throwing ability was my favorite feature. Instead of shooting or swinging at opponents, you could walk up to them and throw them in any direction. If they hit another enemy, the enemy would ricochet off of him and bounce off the screen and/or other enemies, and so forth. The joy I had when a series of enemies would throw two or three bombs at me, and I would jump up and throw them back at them was a great feeling, and it made the gameplay that much more unique. So for the developers to have completely eradicated the throw ability in this game, well, that just hurts.
Graphically, Gunstar Super Heroes is eons betters than its predecessor. The original was colorful, but this one ups the ante by ten. The character designs are much more detailed and display more personality. Characters move with more frames of animation, and everything is faster. The music and sound are crystal clear. Treasure even took some songs from the original and revised them for this version, which is definitely not a bad thing.
The action is still very fact paced and fun, but for me to play this game, I cannot look at it as a direct sequel to the original, which is extremely hard because of all of the nostalgic designs and music. If anything, I feel they should have done a revised version of the original with enhanced graphics and without altering the gameplay mechanics. At the same time, a true sequel with all new content would have been appreciated.
If you have not played Gunstar Heroes or Gunstar Super Heroes before, then definitely check this out. For hardcore vets of the original game, beware. Although the changes are subtle, they affect the ultimate experience dramatically. And if you are a person who has not played Gunstar Super Heroes or the original, but you plan to play both, be sure to hit this one first so you can appreciate how great it is, then tackle the original. Believe me, it is the only way.