In 1993, Japanese game developer Treasure
smashed onto the scene with a game that people now laud as one of the best, if not the best, Sega Genesis game(s). Does it live up to the hype? Hell yeah.Gunstar Heroes
is a game so technical for the time that it rivals the modern genre of movement/technical shooters and platformers. You got kicks, slides, wall jumps, grinds, throwing, and ducking, all of which the player can use to skillfully blow through levels. It's a simple control scheme (unlike that of its predecessors) that makes it easy to pick up and play and rewarding to practice and get better at.
Gunstar Heroes also boasts unique weapons and moveset options throughout the playthrough. Weapons come in 4 elemental orbs and you combine two of them together to create a unique weapon. The cool thing about this system is that weapons cater both to situations AND player skill level. Homing weapons might be better for players who want to focus on dodging instead, while the close ranged weapons are better for players who like being aggressive. Each weapon types is weaker in some scenarios; homing weapons are weak against large bosses and close ranged weapons are weak against the run' n' gun sections. You get what I'm saying? Hundreds of different ways to mix up runs and replay the game.
The real reason why Gunstar Heroes captivated the hearts of so many action game fan-boys/girls/folk is the charm it has. Treasure games are known for their unique spritework and character design, and GH does not disappoint. Characters pop off the screen on already colorful alien plants of cities and villages. It's a very exhilarating game to play. Imagine, if you will, hundreds of explosions filling the screen at all times, the screen violently shaking, projectiles flying everywhere! Visibility is almost a problem at some parts where you struggle to find yourself in the action, but these moments are rare.
And shining in the center of Gunstar Heroes is the boss design. This game has 30-sum bosses (which is a lot for a Genesis game!) and each one is more bombastic than the last. Not only are they cool to look at, but they're a joy to fight (minus a few) because they complement the player's moveset and capabilities.
The cooperative play in this game is phenomenal as well. It's one of the few games I can think of where it actually FEELS like you're playing with a second player, as opposed to just 2 players playing the same single player game at the same time. There's legitimate strategy to be had, whether it's saving a health up for your teammate or throwing them into the opponent, dealing damage and pissing off your little brother (sorry lil' bro).
The only weak link of this game is that stage 5 and half of stage 6 is much weaker than the rest of the game. The shmup section doesn't need to be nearly as long as it is, and stage 5 could have used a checkpoint. But that's really it! The game is otherwise flawless.
Look buddy, let me give you the rundown. This game has a really good online multiplayer Steam port that frequently goes on sale for $1 USD. Buy the game for yourself and a friend and have a blast playing together for the next hour. You won't regret it!