Sunday, February 1, 2015

Game Review: Gunman Clive 2

2D Action/Platformer; 3DS eShop; Hörberg Productions; 2015
When is the Mega Man and Ike Amiibo suppose to release again? Because apparently February 1 isn't it. I checked with a Target, a Best Buy, and two Gamestops and walked away with nothing. And it was all while walking in the rain. Anyway, now it's time for another video game review. And no, I am not watching the Superbowl. Just because a team with my same geographical location is playing in it, doesn't mean anything about me or the people who live in the same geographical location. Anyway, on with the review.

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on FIRE!
The original Gunman Clive was a 2D action/platformer in much the same style as the classic Mega Man games. What was more impressive than it's simple yet challenging gameplay or it's minimalistic yet striking artstyle is that the entire game (minus soundtrack) was all done by ONE GUY, Bertil Horberg. Well the $2 masterpiece game is back this time costing $3 for an additional character and more colors to the palette in Gunman Clive 2. What's the story? Kill the bandits! That's it. And that's why I spent this section of the review talking about the history of the game.

Gunman Clive is as simple as it gets. You can jump, run, shoot, and do all of those at the same time. The only power-ups are 2 different types of guns, a spread shot which shoots in multiple directions and a heavy shot which travels slower but hits much much harder (Both of which you will lose if you get hit). The game is all about simple design and the stages more revolve around careful jumps and smart enemy placements. And to that end the game is remarkably solid, and easily ranks up with some of the best of the classic NES titles. And while it is really hard and death is very common, there is no limit to the lives you get, and though dying sends you back to the beginning of the stage, each stage hits that "Just right" amount of length. Not too short making the game feel like it's handing out checkpoints like candy, and not too long to make replaying a single stage just because you get killed at the end too frustrating. And it's not just traditional side scrolling stages. You will mount pandas, ride mine carts, and even fly planes in a Star Fox esque sequence (why haven't we gotten a TRUE sequel to Star Fox 64!?).

In addition to Clive there are two other playable protagonists. Returning from the first game is Ms. Johnson (damsel/second character) who while she takes more damage and can't run and shoot at the same time, can hover a short duration during her jumps (ala Princess Peach). New to this game is Chieftain Bob, who doesn't have a gun but runs faster than anyone else and can mildly annoy enemies with his pointy stick. All three characters are available from the start with an additional character locked until you beat the game (and people who have played the first game will know what character I am talking about). All and All a very solid package.

Gravity Man called, he wants his shtick back.
Unfortunately, this is the part of the review where I start to nitpick. First of all is the new character Chieftain Bob. Now I'm not going to go into the entire thing about representations of Native Americans in media because I feel like that is just nonsense spew by people who's occupation is to be offended, and I don't care about that sort of thing. No my problem is his balance. See unlike the other two characters, Bob is a melee character and thus needs to be right next to enemies to deal damage. SO WHY IS IT THAT HE TAKES THE MOST DAMAGE OUT OF EVERYONE!? He is incredibly weak compared to everyone else that it makes it feel like playing as Bob is Hard mode, even though there already IS a hard mode. Second is that there is a gravity gimmick throughout the entire game. Now this was in the original game as well, but only for the last stages, but here it happens frequently and starts to get repetitive. Now it does do different things with this gravity mechanic like during the minecart sequence and late in the game where you are on a round surface and all the gravity around it is being pulled towards the center. But it feels like it's appears in too many stages for it to be a refreshing change of pace for the standard gameplay, but also is not present enough to be considered a core mechanic. It feels like this was made in the "I'm running out of ideas" point in development. Also the points where you have to navigate one of these gravity circles becomes infuriating because every time you move on these circles the controls as to walking left or right change as you are now walking up or down.

Gunman Clive was a fantastic little game that captured the simple fun of oldschool action/platformers. And Gunman Clive 2 continues this trend, albeit with slightly more frustration. I prefer the original game as that seem more finely crafted from start to finish and had a bit more of a original flare to it. But the sequel is no slouch itself and for the cheap price of only $3 there isn't much more you can spend those three dollars on. Highly Recommended.

Until Next Time.

-CRES, of course you end up riding into the sunset.

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