Friday July 1, 2005 11:29 am
Playfeed Time Warp: Gunstar Heroes
As I sit here typing a draft of this editorial on a crowded NYC subway, I can recall a simpler time when fighting for controllers was never an issue. This was a time when you’d be satisfied with “Wait until I get game over.” There was no such thing as LAN parties, no 4-port systems and no online capabilities. This was a time when we would count how many bits our system(s) was and how many our next one would be.
In spite, there are still some similarities now that still exist. We still love to play together with as many friends as possible and we still make a night out of it. We still think about the future systems and how they will impact our life (and salivate at pictures in magazines and websites). One thing is for certain, we love any type of co-op just as much as we like competition. Enter Gunstar Heroes – one of the most addictive co-op games to date. Venture with us to 1993, when Gunstar Heroes drove a couple of high school kids went crazy over fictitious guns and humorous surroundings.
Konami lost a gem of developers on back end that ended up calling themselves Treasure – and that they were. These guys never put much together as a third party but they were behind some of the games we consider classics; Contra and Castlevania to name a few. What they did manage to collectively bring to the table was an assortment of games that were stunning (Guardian Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, and recently Wario World). But I digress – Gunstar Heroes to me and the rest of the boys was a game that brought Contra-like fun to my generation. I don’t make this comparison lightly either. Contra broke a lot of ground in the industry, especially for 8-bit, but that’s for another Time Warp. Gunstar Heroes. was an awesome marvel on the Genesis from the get go. I can remember just looking at the developers’ intro before the title screen and being impressed with the animation from those screens alone.
It is possible to mount up a one player onslaught on the CPU’s candy @$$, but last I recall – Two is better than one. So why not share in the glory of it all with a buddy? After all, didn’t you’re momma teach you how to share? So here’s where my buddies and I would crowd up the Genesis, whip out a fresh pitcher of Kool-Aid and go to town. For hours on end we’d trade the joysticks back and forth. What teamwork; when somebody’s fingers and eyes were tired or if we knew that a particular person was best for that boss (and this game’s full of ‘em), we’d pass the controller.
But again, I get off topic (you’ll have to excuse the reminiscing; it goes hand in hand with this game). The game is mind blowing for its time. This is one of the first times I ever so polygons on screen combined with a beautiful array of animation. The bosses are so rich in detail and you really get attached to protecting you’re partner’s lives – especially since you use the same continues. There are four types of weapons: homing, fire, lightning, or machine gun. You can combine any of these in pairs to make a devastating weapon(s) of destruction. Heck, you can even double up on one type – I prefer double homing, less work. Another example might be homing flame type of weapon.
The game is constructed on a pick-you-own-level system with 4 levels to choose from the start of the game. Each level consists of your basic goons that lead into mini bosses and all end with a main boss in which you must acquire a gem. But no one really care about the story, it’s all about gameplay on this one. Driving it home is a final couple of levels to finish the game. The level layouts are intuitive and all have unique section at some point. From mine carts (double in co op) to hopping up steps like Q-bert.
Overall you can’t help but love the way this game brings people together. Go on, be a Gunstar Hero… …and bring a friend… …a few.
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