Years ago, I had a handful of Game Informer magazines. I didn’t have a subscription, as much as I enjoyed it, especially the section they dedicated to oddball import titles. Of them, for some reason, possibly just due to the sheer awesomeness of the title, one particular Japanese PlayStation game stuck in my brain for years, quietly lurking until the chance came to make itself known. So, after finally remembering how to get a PS emulator to work (don’t laugh; the only time I ever used one was before I found an actual copy of Misadventures of Tron Bonne) so I could stream MegaMan Legends for RGLtv, I got the crazy idea to finally take that game for a test drive.
SPEED POWER GUNBIKE! God, just say that out loud. Doesn’t that feel great? Gunbike is actually the first game made by IntiCreates, currently one of the best developers of “new retro” style games like Blaster Master Zero, Azure Striker Gunvolt, and the later MegaMan titles. Interestingly enough, this game uses a cartoony low-poly style that kind of makes it look a little similar to Mega Man Legends at a glance. I guess they’ve just always had that kind of style. History lesson aside, I’ve found Gunbike to be seriously entertaining once the initial awkwardness of the controls was… mostly past. Make no mistake, this gem is cut rough around the edges. A fair amount of it can probably be blamed on being a pre Dual Shock PS1 title, which basicaly means a lack of precision movement and the camera is your cruel and uncaring master. Each character has a unique set of special attacks from mostly-undocumented controller inputs that aren’t… esoecially useful for the most part. But still, the core idea is gold and with some adjustment it’s a load of fun to play.
In the far-flung year of 2097, an alien race known as the Michi have invaded, and conventional weaponry is useless against them. To combat the alien threat, Gunbikes were developed as a means to combat the Michi by turning soldiers into living bullets and slam into them. I assume this is some kind of life energy/chi thing, but I can’t be sure since information on the game is surprisingly hard to come by, even on the Internets age. Most of what I know of the storyline comes from a friend giving some manual scans I found a once-over, an old IGN article that says the game “will be” released in November 1997 and Hardcore Gaming 101’s article on it. I would love to learn more about the storyline because the ending is really weird and I want to know how things escalate to the heroes flying naked though space surrounded by 2001: A Space Odyssey slabs. (Is it still a spoiler if it’s not coherent?)
Regardless of which of the three drivers you choose, the basics remain the same- Zoom around levels on a transforming super motorcycle, smashing enemies and roadblocks on your way to bosses. The bikes can transform from bike mode, to a wider-stanced Rally Mode, to Robot Mode, where your offensive powers are pretty much all based. The bike is the fastest, but taking damage in this form will fling the rider off the seat and force them to run back to it, like Excitebike. Wasting time is a Very Bad Thing in this, because your supply of “Anergy” (sic) is constantly ticking down, and depletes in chunks when you are hit by enemies as well. Since your life and timer are one and the same, the emphasis of the game is on moving as fast and efficiently as possible. Ippei is the easiest to use, a hot blooded former biker gang leader who wants to avenge his brother’s death to the Michi and also seems to really bond with his Gunbike’s computer. Ami is an artificial human created from a mix of human and Michi DNA, with some mental issues. Major Nouno rounds out the team as the ‘cool senior’ type character, at least until he loses it and turns on everyone.
So yeah, that’s been one among many sidetracks lately. Here, have a sketch dump!