Gunstar Heroes (VC) Review

Gunstar Heroes may be the best cult classic in gaming. A sidescrolling action-oriented shooter akin to Contra and Metal Slug, the game is a favorite of many Genesis gamers, but hasn’t really seen a lot of love since — especially with the lackluster GBA iteration. One of the aspects of the Wii many of us are excited about, however, is the way Nintendo is resurrecting many classic and cult-favorite franchises on the virtual console, making them readily available through legal means.

Coming out a short while back, Gunstar Heroes was the game I was looking forward to the most this holiday season. I’ve played and beaten Gears, Zelda, FFXII and a slew of other A titles, but from the moment I first got an email letting me know in December I could download Gunstar Heroes, I’ve been counting down the days. As a longtime fan of the series who only stopped playing because his original cart was "borrowed" years ago and never returned, it’s been a very fun last few days.

Like Contra and Metal Slug, it takes a quick reaction time and nimble fingers to truly shine in Gunstar Heroes. You start off by picking your starting mode of fire, which grants different bonuses and abilities, such as homing-fire or lightning, which phases through enemies. You also pick if you’d like to remain stationary while you fire, which makes aiming easier, or have the ability to move and fire, which makes dodging enemies and attacks much less frustrating, but increases the frustration of aiming doubly so. From there, you’ll pick your destination from one of four levels.

As anyone who’s played this game can attest, the levels are filled with enemies that come at you hard and fast. Even on the easiest difficulty, lifelong gamers may find themselves being overrun by swarm after swarm of mindless drones. The enemies vary nicely from one another, but the bosses are where it’s really at. If you can beat all of the bosses in Gunstar Heroes on the hardest difficulty, you really do have something to brag about.

Like similar titles, where Gunstar Heroes truly shines is the co-op experience; the lack of multiplayer is the downfall of the GBA remake. Alone, Gunstar Heroes is a fun game. With a friend, though, it’s a real blast. The game will play just about the same with one or two players, so it’s obviously a much quicker play with two of you manning the controls. There’s nothing quite like screaming obscenities at your friend in order to get help killing some enemy, though.

The only real drawback I have with this game is the fact that the co-op can’t be performed online. Like Metal Slug Anthology, you’re forced to play on the same console in the same room. With the online service of the Wii, it would be nice to connect to a friend and blast through the missions across that series of tubes we know as the Internet, but alas, it’s not to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly fun playing with a friend in the same room, as it allows you to chatter and yell at the television together. But for those times you find yourself alone at home playing with your Wii, it would have been nice to let an online friend help out.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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