Kids With Guns

6 Jan

There is an overwhelming amount of praise for Gunstar Heroes across the internet, but I’m not quite sure why. I succumbed to the hype one boring night sometime last year and downloaded the game for a mere eight bucks on the Wii’s Virtual Console. I thought the game was pretty terrible and only touched it once or twice more after that night.

A few hours ago, I was browsing through a thread of recommended VC games and saw more unanimous support for Gunstar Heroes. Naturally, I rushed to my Wii, re-downloaded the game, and played through it so I could have its poor gameplay fresh in mind as I type this scathing post on a beloved shooter.



It’s difficult to know where to begin because it’s difficult to understand why people love this game so much.

I’m assuming most people enjoy Gunstar Heroes because of its combination weapon system. There are four types of weapons: Force, Lightning, Chaser, and Flame. Each have their own unique properties when fired on their own, but can be combined into a single weapon once you collect a second. For example, combining Chaser with Flame allows you fire enemy-seeking flames. This concept is neat, but the combinations are either hit or miss.

The above example is terrible as you have very little control over which of the numerous, infinitely-spawning enemies the flame will hit. Even if you could decide, the flame is slow and has a short range, making it difficult to connect. I stuck with a double Chaser combo and rarely took my finger off the fire button as my shots rapidly sought out enemies across the screen for me.

There was a bit of potential to be found in some of the levels, but something ruined each moment. Wasted potential is a difficult flaw to deal with in most games I play, but in Gunstar Heroes, it’s not that much of a concern to me as the game is just so un-fun.

With an infinite amount of enemies rushing towards you, you’re pretty much playing defense while pressing forward. Bosses break up the monotony, but with the Chaser-Chaser combo, I was still left playing defense while my gun did the work on its own. Challenge is a difficult thing to balance in a game, but I shouldn’t have to create that balance myself by avoiding the more efficient combos.

When I originally downloaded the game, it was to have something new to play with friends. Gunstar Heroes‘ two-player mode isn’t much different from the single player aside from the constant, accidental throwing of your partnet into the infinite horde. It almost becomes a competitive co-op, but it doesn’t seem to have been designed that way on purpose.

Reviews will tell you to play Gunstar Heroes because it’s jam-packed full of “non-stop action” That’s like saying flipping through channels on the TV is “non-stop action” because you’re basically executing the same action: staring at the screen like a zombie while you constantly hold down a single button.

Gunstar Heroes is not a good game. I’m convinced people who sing its praises across the internet fell in love with it as children, when combining weapons like that was unbelievably awesome and infinitely respawning enemies were an acceptable substitute for a lack of decent gameplay and depth.

Nostalgia does not a good game make.


4 Responses to “Kids With Guns”

  1. Radiation January 9, 2009 at 4:13 AM #

    ninten1 I know you are innocent but I find this review stupid for multiple reasons:

    1. on lower difficulties you can just use double-chaser and not worry about a thing so you can get a feel for the game, on higher difficulties chaser deals MUCH less damage and is BAD unless your main concern is just dodging and you don’t mind taking four times as long to beat the boss. play on a higher difficulty if you want a challenge, guarantee you’ll get stuck on seven force and piss yourself.

    2. throwing your partner into the enemy does NOT deal your partner damage unless they land on the enemy, it deals a massive amount of damage to most bosses and is a useful technique

    3. flame chaser is the ultimate “fixed” weapon (i. e., you can actually control it) and the lightsaber is the ultimate “free” weapon (you can run forward while mowing people down), they both suck on the other abilities but on the right configuration they are amazing

    4. also the bosses are the best part of the game. if you don’t think seven force was amazing I’m not sure what you’re comparing things too, giant multipartite running men still look awesome even today

    5. lack of gameplay depth? lack of decent gameplay? I don’t mind if you don’t like the game but this is the biggest lie I have ever heard of this game. The game is challenging and demands a lot of skill – on higher difficulties you HAVE to utlize all of your options correctly. (The lowest difficulty is a cakewalk, trust me, but when you go higher it gets impossible) You have to know the guard, the slide, the throw, the air attack, and which weapon is the best for the approaching boss fight.

    Sure, some of the areas where you’re just running forward blasting enemies tend to get a little repetitive, but looking on screen to prioritize bullets and enemies and chucking your teammate at the right time can pull you through without any damage and it’s pretty intense.

    Is the music not freaky enough? Are magnetic mine cart rides not innovative enough? Is the random space level not sick enough? Is Golden Silver not badass enough?

    I’m not sure what you expected from this game, maybe Super Mario Bros. is a horrible game because all I’m doing is jumping over things, there’s no depth to it at all. You can beat the entire game just by jumping.

    • chasmang January 9, 2009 at 4:48 AM #

      Perhaps it’s just not my kind of game, but I did really enjoy Sin & Punishment, which was similar (obviously) in many ways.

      You mention higher difficulties, and while I’m sure there’s a bit more to the game on those difficulties, my friends and I just couldn’t have any fun with it. Maybe you can chalk it up to the game’s “old age.” I really didn’t enjoy the areas that weren’t scrolling. Infinite enemies swarming you just doesn’t mesh well with those levels.

      And your Mario comment doesn’t really apply at all, but maybe our tastes are too different to agree on stuff like this.

  2. Radiation January 9, 2009 at 12:00 PM #

    Yeah, sorry, the Mario thing makes no sense but I was annoyed. Calling this game “pretty terrible” is unfathomable to me, just because it’s so badass. DICE MAZE!!

    The infinite enemy parts are hard and annoying if you have a crappy weapon like chaser, and yeah they are by far the worst part of the game, but even if you don’t enjoy them I feel that the boss fights/other parts of the game make up for the rest of it anyway.

    Also when you say “old age” or “tinted by nolstalgia” or stuff, that’s because when I play these games I compare them to other games that came out in 1993. Although it doesn’t really matter, because if I appreciate the core gameplay and all the other things about the game its age is irrelevant because those things about it aren’t going to change or whatever.

    Anyway I guess it’s your opinion, but I’d hate to see a professional game journalist say anything very negative about a game that I like a lot 😡

  3. chasmang January 9, 2009 at 4:13 PM #

    Well, maybe it’s time game journalists didn’t candy coat their opinions as much anymore.

    I might have been harsh in my post here, but you’re fully aware that it’s only my opinion. No matter how I present that opinion, it’s still just the way one guy feels about a game.

    If you read my new Mission statement up top, you’ll see that I’m trying to focus, now, on offering validations for specific opinions about games. I’m no longer attempting to satisfy everyone by explaining how “if you’re a fan of X, you’ll love Y!”

    Instead, I’m just trying to offer my own, personal opinion, fans of the game be damned. Video game journalists shouldn’t be out to please gamers time after time. They should be there to offer discussion on the games that you love and hate.

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