Gunstar Heroes - Mega Drive

This level of innovation can rarely be seen in today's game market'

Feature by Dave Cook | 12 Nov 2006
There was a time when side-scrolling shooters were in fashion. Nintendo had 'Contra' and 'R-Type' but Sega were yet to have a decent blaster to call its own. Radical new coding house Treasure exploded into the market with innovative and unique titles so highly regarded that they are essential to any retro gamer's collection.

One title was 'Gunstar Heroes', a platform shoot-em-up that smashed the boundaries of creativity and wowed critics. It was a simple run-and-gun format (controlling a character shooting waves of enemies over a few levels) but its real strength came from a dynamic shooting system, inspired level design and lush visuals.

Notorious villain Yellow had stolen four jewels to resurrect an evil android in a bid to take over the universe and our heroes Red and Blue were charged with taking them back before it was too late. There were four weapons to choose from and any two could be combined to make a further thirteen weapon types. There were also tons of unarmed moves such as frog splashes and sliding kicks. Three buttons had never held so many special moves at your disposal.

The enemies were wonderfully created, boasting their own unique attack patterns, from foot soldiers to giant robot monstrosities waiting to soak your ammunition, and yes, it could be extremely hard in parts, making the overall experience more rewarding when you succeed. The fast pace kept your eyes glued to the screen and the level of graphical detail was rare for the time.

This level of innovation can rarely be seen in today's game market, with the exception of Nintendo's in-house titles. 'Gunstar Heroes' has charm that few have replicated and if shooters are not your bag, platform set-pieces (sliding down the side of a giant pyramid anyone?) make this a retro gem. It's a hard game to track down but well worth it if you can find it. - Gunstar Heroes Ultimate Fansite - boss shot