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Preview: Gunstar Super Heroes

Preview- Gunstar Super Heroes 1You’ve heard of it. You’ve seen the screen shots. You’ve tasted the thirty second trailer in our article on why it belongs on the Game Boy Advance, and you want more. The hype surrounding the release of Treasure’s 2D run-‘n-gun tour de force – Gunstar Super Heroes – has reached fever pitch, and lucky for you, Sega-16 is here with your fix of everything Gunstar.

There’s just so much to say, that it’s almost impossible to cover it all in a single preview. GSH has to be the single most desired game ever released by Treasure, as well as one of the most anticipated releases this year. When it ships later this fall, GBA owners everywhere will be treated to something they’ve been yearning for since the original Gunstar Heroes first appeared in 1993 – that blistering, thumb-wearing twitch action that left your brow beaded with sweat and your heart beating like thunder.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to rumble once more.

I know, I know. How can you say anything of the sort until you’ve played it? Perhaps you haven’t seen the trailers. If that’s the case, stop reading now and scroll down to the pretty little picture at the end of all this text. Watch the video, pick your jaw up from the floor, then come back and continue.

Classic Gameplay, Classic Gunstar

The Evil Empire is intent on resurrecting the God of Ruin, but they’ll need a stone of great power to do it. Of course, neither Red nor Blue plan on letting them get it, and the resulting battle takes you through six wild and frantic levels, featuring some of the most incredible 3D effects you’ll ever see on Nintendo’s little handheld. That’s about all the plot there is, and it’s about all you’ll need. The original wasn’t big on its storyline, so no one should really be expecting a modern epic here.

What we do expect is some great action, along with some awesome effects, and GSH delivers both of these in spades. In all honesty, I don’t know how people out there can still doubt Treasure’s coding skills. GSH does things the GBA simply should not do, and I’m sure you’ll put your ear to yours to check for wheezing and heavy panting.

Take for example, the beginning of the gameplay footage from the video below. The huge, multi-jointed boss that appears out of the background hulks over you like a mechanical behemoth, ready to pounce without mercy. Not enough for you? Keep watching that video then, and marvel at the beautiful rotating jungle stage. The interesting thing is that GSH isn’t just another pretty face. The gameplay’s as good as the visuals.

You’re probably thinking that six stages seems kind of short, but Treasure’s already one step ahead of you. Though only single player, the game allows you to play through different routes with either Red or Blue. The story unfolds differently, depending on which one you chose, and though this is meant to add a measure of replay value, it’s not like the game really needs it. You’ll find yourself playing through the game several times just to see all the stages and bosses, without really spending any time worrying about who said what. Virtually every level is chock full of special effects, mixing in some familiar tricks with all-new stunts. The shmups stages are more prominent this time around as well, adding even more variety to the formula.

Treasure also redid the weapons system, adding a refreshing touch without tinkering with the tried and true gameplay fans are expecting. Fans of the original may be disappointed that the weapons fusion system is gone, but the new system works pretty well. You can now switch from three weapons on the fly: auto-fire, flamethrower, and laser, each of which has its own power bar. The more you use a particular armament, the higher the bar will build. You can use this energy to fire a massive power blast, which mows down even the most powerful foes. As in the first game, you are also capable of unleashing some wicked melee attacks, like kicks and punches. Sadly though, there’s no throwing your friend this time.

Something Old Meets Something New

Not content with merely reviving some of the legendary Gunstar Heroes‘ stages for the sequel (new Dice Palace!), Treasure also saw fit to pay homage to several Sega franchises too. Altered Beast, Afterburner, and Thunder Blade all have some kind of boss or level feature, which is very cool to see. Several classic bosses return also, including fan-favorite Seven Force, who looks better than ever thanks to the GBA’s powerful scaling and rotation prowess.

One thing that has me a bit worried is the fact that even though the levels look great, they don’t seem to mesh very well. Gunstar Heroes at least attempted to guide each stage into the next, and all the images and video I’ve seen so far don’t suggest the same about the sequel. Hopefully, Treasure will have everything ironed out by release time, and my concerns will be put to rest.

A Simple Decision

Do I really need to tell you that Gunstar Super Heroes is a must for fans of the original, as well as anyone with a GBA or DS? I intend to play this baby on my GBA Player, in 27” and stereo glory. Hands down, this is something every gamer worth his weight in salt needs to play. Sega-16 will be there when it ships, with a full product review. Until then, watch the video below a few more times and please, wipe the floor before you leave.

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