As I’ve mentioned, Popzara’s managing editor loves to rail against remasters. One word about an HD remake or whatever and the office’s roof is going to go flying as he flips out about “rehashes.” Suffice to say, he wasn’t happy when 3D Gunstar Heroes showed up. Fortunately, after I took cover behind my desk in the newsroom I got to play it a bit, so let’s talk about the latest 3D Classics title.
3D Gunstar Heroes is, uh, Gunstar Heroes. It presumably has some 3D components; I am not capable of viewing these, so for all intents and purposes this is just Gunstar Heroes. If you haven’t played it, Gunstar Heroes is basically an anime-themed side-scrolling shooter where you run and jump and glide and fly your way through several colorful levels, blasting away and taking down bosses. It’s basically an even more insane version of Contra, made by the same developers (having absconded from Konami).
The game’s key gimmick is the ability to equip two different types of weapon and combine their powers; for instance, the green Chaser shoots weak little homing flecks by default, but combining it with the powerful Lightning will produce a tracking laser that tears smaller foes to pieces. The Flame weapon is a powerful but short-ranged flamethrower, but mix it with Chaser and you can send it flying around terrorizing baddies. Combine this with some of the most responsive controls of the 16-bit era and you’ve got a classic.
Gunstar Heroes still feels fresh thanks to the variety of gameplay on offer. In one stage you’re riding a minecart while battling a transforming robot, in another you’re playing a demented board game where the roll of a die determines your fate. It’s basically nonstop fun – repetition is a killer and Gunstar Heroes manages to avoid it entirely. If you’ve never played this one before, you’ve both missed out and are in for a treat with 3D Gunstar Heroes.
There are a couple of little touches to bring the game slightly out of the stone age, like no longer forcing you to choose whether you’d like to be able to move while shooting or not. You can also choose a variety of display and sound settings, including emulating a tube television and an alternate model of Genesis hardware, and try the new Gunslinger Mode which allows you to choose weapon combinations whenever you’d like instead of relying on item pickups.
There’s a life-doubling cheat on offer and it’s possible to save replays as well, if this is something you’re into. You can also adjust the game’s 3D effects, though again, I can’t see those so it’s difficult to comment. Unfortunately, one of the features that could have made this a must-buy is absent: there’s no online multiplayer.
Otherwise, 3D Gunstar Heroes is still Gunstar Heroes. You’ve probably played it already. It’s still a solid game, and it’s certainly better than the lackluster Gunstar Super Heroes on Game Boy Advance. Treasure is known for their solid games that endure the test of time and there’s no exception here, so if you want to experience a mobile Gunstar Heroes again, you could certainly do worse. Me? I’ll be waiting for the remaster of Silhouette Mirage.