Gunstar Super Heroes(GBA)

Boldly forging forward in the genre of stuff we've sort of seen already but with more cinema scenes and better artwork.

It's really like a portable Gunstar Heroes: Director's Cut. With a painful helicopter level.

Treasure is a game company that splintered away from Konami to pursue their own ideas for games. This made them folk heroes or something for sticking it to the MAN. Among their crowning achievements was a little Genesis title called Gunstar Heroes. They say it came with a fruit roll-up. Whatever. It was a damn good shooter, something like Contra with melee combat tossed in, as well as a lot of gratitious scaling and rotating to piss off the SNES and its monopoly on unconvincing 3-D. It also had a japanriffic wacky translation thing going on, since each and every boss and mini boss battle started off with the enemy name, and their method of attack. This lead to stuff like a killer palm tree called PAPAYA DANCE, and of course the near-endgame FINAL ULTIMATE SOLDIER and his Love-Love Dancing.

So basically, Gunstar Heroes made a big splash with a cult following who religiously followed them from that point happily pointing out that their numerous sellouts and liscensed games were genius too. Not to say they aren't good, of course they are. But I always fell back on Gunstar for an example of their good stuff, which really got harder to impress people with after about four game consoles came and went. And WE ALL KNOW THE RULE THAT TREASURE NEVER MAKES SEQUELS!!!!

Well, it turns out that 1) they never made any rule like that, and 2) we've gotten two GBA sequels to Treasure games in the space of the past year. But since nobody cared about the River City Lite-esque Advance Guardian Heroes, OMG GUNSTAR SUPAR HEROES IS THE FIRST EVER TREASURE SEQUEL. The two actually have a few things in common. For one, both take place a vague period of time after the prior game, just long enough for everyone to forget the near end of the fucking world and the people who saved them from it. In fact, Advance Guardian Heroes did some weird retconning with its future spinoff to segue into the original Gunstar Heroes, with the addition of spacecraft and Dr. Brown.

Gunstar SUPER Heroes is a sequel in spirit, but sort of a remake in practice. There are a LOT of similar levels, enemies, and bosses. Yes, a hundred years after the fact, there just happen to be all new Gunstars coincidentally named Blue, Red, and Yellow (also: dress as such) battle the evil Pink, Green, General Grey et al. Do any of these people have history books? Photo albums, family trees, maybe? Of course, the game does end up revealing there are dozens and dozens of parallel Earths, further confusing things. As the game opens, we find out the death of the God of Ruin, Golden Silver in GH destroyed the Treasure Gems, as well as the moon. Since then however, four new moons have popped up with all new Gems, then a fifth satellite with a weird sentient Gem called the Megalith appears, prompting Evil Empire II: Electric Boogaloo to launch another Golden Silver Ressurection Campaign.

GuSH as I've taken to calling it is one of the more 'videogamey' games to come out lately. You can't deplete your own HP by smoking or tool around in dozens of lovingly detailed real world cars. You're a cartoony looking girl or guy who fires a big pistol that never runs out of bullets at impossible machinery being piloted by freaks. Much like the original-well, like I said, it's MUCH LIKE THE ORIGINAL. Much like the original, the game blends many different play styles in over the course of the story, from straight up shooting to BOARD GAMES to a rather crappy top-down helicopter shooter section. The overall blend is sort of like if Battletoads was actually good. The only real low points of the game are the chopper section and the omission of the old game's fun mix-and-match armament in favor of a more fighting game-ish super meter thing in which the character swaps their Gunstar gun for a huge-ass bazooka pack and cuts loose with a devastating blast stream. It seems like they toned down the default guns' damage to play up the importance of the special shots, but it could just be me. There is a difference other than gender and color between the characters, which in a surprising reversal of usual game dynamics makes Red a bit stronger in head-on battle than her male counterpart Blue. Kind of sucks you can't unlock Green or anyone else since you don't get any 2-player mode whatsoever.

The game uses its vague story to entice players into trying the higher difficulties. Depending on who you use and what difficulty, you only get bits and pieces of the story. You only get the 'real' ending by finishing on Hard with Blue, which in the tradition of AGH's vaporization in the atmosphere, is really more of a downer than when you plow through the whole thing as Red and everyone sort of lives happily ever after. Maybe Treasure should be known more as the AMAZING DOWNER company. Next up; A followup to Radiant Silvergun where beating it on Ultra Hard unlocks a cutscene of the end of Old Yeller.