As bizarre plots go, Gunstar Heroes is classic 16-bit era madness. You are in charge of protecting planet G9 from Colonel Red who to resurrect a huge robot named Golden Silver and then take over the planet. To stop this Professor White has hidden the four mystical gems that control the robot, but they won't stay hidden for long because with the help of Green (a Gunstar brother who Red has kidnapped), the Colonel will soon close in on the robot's power source.
What the plot amounts to is a number of side-scrolling, action-packed levels with lots of jumping sliding, diving and shooting for One or two players. Each level presents something new - one minute you might be running along quite happily, guns ablazing, and the next you might be sliding down the side of a mountain, or falling headlong into a futuristic mine cart, with your balance swapped between floor and ceiling. The game keeps you on your toes and the pace never lets up for a minute. It's an exhilarating ride.
Graphically, Gunstar is set in a sort of crazy Anime-inspired cartoon world. The emphasis is on big explosions and unleashing as much colour and movement as possible. It's hard to imagine how the Mega Drive coped with all the action and now it's running even more smoothly on the 3DS. Levels invariably finish with a number of manic boss battles with each monstrosity proving stranger than the last and generally filling half of the screen. In keeping with Treasure's standards, everything animates and disintegrates wonderfully and at the time this was about as good as it got on the Mega Drive in terms of the sheer amount of effects.
Much like the other side scrolling games that have made the move to the 3D Classic series there is nothing amazing in the 3D effect. There's some nice scaling and rotation but the game looks equally impressive just zipping along without the effect on. The now standard options for changing between the Mega Drive or Mega Drive II for emulation and having the Japanese and International versions available are also found here. The biggest addition to this version is a new mode which lets you cycle through all the available weapons instead of being reliant on the weapon drops.
Pure quality of presentation aside, the gameplay of Gunstar Heroes is every bit as good. With so much happening at any one time, it is essential to have a responsive and flexible control system. The game allows you to customise your shooting method - it can either be set up to fire while the player is moving, in the direction that the player is moving, or it can be fixed in one direction while you leap around in another. Additionally, our heroes can rely on a few other moves to avoid enemy fire; you can slide under obstacles, jump up to higher levels from below, and somersault off the walls, damaging anything and everything upon your descent. It's fluid and responsive action, and exactly what you need when you find yourself stuck in the middle of increasingly tight situations and set-pieces.
Overall, Gunstar Heroes is an exceptional title. It looks great, it plays better and even the sound is orchestrated to make everything as hectic and adrenaline-pumping as possible. If there is a fault to be found, you could say that the game is perhaps a little too easy, given its straightforward design. But the two-player consolation ramps up replay ability, and even now the remit has hardly dated at all - meaning it is just as enjoyable and playable as it was upon release. Highly sought after (and rightfully so), Gunstar Heroes proves just how blisteringly good Treasure are
Colour Blind Issues - No
Review Code - Yes