(Retro) Gunstar Heroes

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Gunstar Heroes was a side-scrolling action game developed by Treasure for the Sega Genesis which was released in 1993. You have to option of playing single player or a 2 player co-op campaign. The objective is quite simple – run and gun and defeat the boss at the end of the stage.

The beginning gives you in option of selecting whether you prefer a fixed or freestyle shooting preference and which level you would like to venture first. There are not many levels to begin with, but thankfully the quality over quantity factor comes into play here.

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The game allows you to carry up to 2 weapons at a time and alternating which takes preference. Picking up to unique weapons automatically combines them to give you a new form of ammunition. This allows you to plan which items to pick up and when to best utilize them to your advantage. Another skill set at your disposal is the power slide and the ability to grab and throw opponents at close range. The action can get quite hectic so it doesn’t hurt to have a friend play alongside you for co-op.

The bosses are unique and quite well thought out. Some bosses will have multiple forms and some will require you to exploit them based on their movement patterns.

The levels in this game are varied and most importantly “fun.” Each level is not a cut and paste design as some may expect from action games. One level will have you sliding down a pyramid and another will have you riding through a giant tunnel with the ability to be on either the floor or the ceiling. The sheer variety in each level will have you coming back for more in order to beat your prior time and score. This type of replay value you don’t quite experience in modern titles. This is true pick and play fun.

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The next area I would like to discuss is the music and sound design. The music is quite catchy throughout, which has been wonderfully composed by Norio Hanzawa. The Genesis sound chip has truly been put to good use, not only in music but the sound effects. Every bullet fired has a different sound depending on the items you have picked up and you will even get quite use to hearing the main character yell out as you toss an opponent.

As you further progress naturally the challenge becomes even greater, but I feel no matter how many times you experience game over it is always more than welcome to play through again.

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Congratulations Treasure on the creation of this fantastic game!

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