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                              Gunstar Heroes
                               Gameplay FAQ
                                version 0.4
                 written by Sherwin Tam (sct8@cornell.edu)
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---CONTENTS---
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Introduction
Version Changes
Game Actions
Free vs. Fixed Shot
Weapons
Disclaimer
Credits



------------------
---INTRODUCTION---
------------------
This is a small FAQ for one of my favorite old Genesis games, Gunstar
Heroes.  Gunstar Heroes was the first game designed by Treasure, who went
on to become one of the most original game designers around.  Gunstar
Heroes is a take on the run-and-shoot genre exemplified by Contra and
manages to be quite varied and funny while being quite difficult at the
same time.



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---VERSION CHANGES---
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0.4 (10/30/99): Found a new block move, although I'm not quite sure what it does.

0.3 (10/23/99): Jmangamer was nice enough to inform me about the confusing
slide, so the Counter Slide has been replaced by Power Slide.  Also
changed information on the Throw.

0.2 (10/22/99): Standard typo fix, and a few more comments here and there.

0.1 (10/20/99): First version.



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---GAME ACTIONS---
--------------------
--Basic Actions--
Run: Just hold down left or right on the directional pad.  Gotta use this
  to get places.

Crouch: Hold down (down/back or down/forward will also work).  Useful for
  avoiding enemy fire from the ground troops, most of which will go
  sailing over your head.

Select Weapon: Hit the Select button (usually A).  This will cycle through
  your left weapon, right weapon, or both weapons combined, assuming you
  have two weapons in your inventory.  This is useful for choosing which
  weapon you want to replace when picking up a new weapon or when you need
  the abilities of only one of your two weapons and not the combination.

Shot: Hit the shot button (usually B).  Shoots your currently chosen
  weapon.

Jump: Hit the jump button (usually C).  If you're running in a direction
  already, you'll jump diagonally forward; otherwise, you'll just go
  straight up.  Note that jumping is one way to overcome your limitations
  from Free Shot and Fixed Shot, since you can always shoot in any
  direction while in the air, and you can always jump while shooting.


--Advanced Actions--
Throw: Hit Shot when an enemy is near.  There are two things to note when
  throwing.  First is that anything that can be picked up can be thrown --
  and there a lot of things you can pick up in this game: enemies, skull
  bombs, even your partner!  Second is that the throw direction can be
  controlled by holding down a direction as you throw an enemy.  This can
  be quite useful for throwing enemies and other objects at each other. So
  when someone throws a skull bomb at you, catch it in mid-air and throw it
  right back!

Pick Up Items: Hit down and Shot when near an item.  Essential for picking
  up new weapons and extra life (hearts).  Note that if you already are
  carrying two weapons and pick up another weapon, the new weapon will be
  pushed from the left, i.e. you will lose your right weapon, your left
  weapon will be pushed to the right, and the new weapon will be added to
  the left.  If, however, you only have one weapon selected instead of
  both, the new one replaces the selected weapon, allowing some more
  control over which weapons you want to keep.

Low Slide: Hit down, down/forward or down/back and Jump.  This can also be
  done while crouching.  The Low Slide is quite powerful compared to normal
  shots and can take down enemies that get too close.  Note, however, that
  enemies in the later levels can block the Low Slide.  Also useful for
  sneaking past high attacks and other nasty things tossed at you.  If
  you're on a platform, make sure to use a diagonal direction to slide, or
  else you'll end up hanging instead.  Also note that you can slide while
  shooting if you're using Free Shot (Fixed Shot won't because you can aim
  down).

Power Slide: An undocumented move.  Do a half circle forward (back,
  down/back, down, down/forward, forward) and hit Shot.  This slide travels
  farther and seems more powerful than the Low Slide, allowing you to clear
  out more enemies.  However, it doesn't avoid attacks.  You cannot do the
  Power Slide while shooting.

Hanging: If on a platform, hit down and Jump.  You'll drop from the
  platform to hang on the underside.  This can also be done by jump
  underneath a platform; you will automatically grab the platform if it is
  close enough.  It is possible to move while hanging, but it's slower
  than the standard run.  While you are hanging, you operate like you have
  Fixed Shot; you can fire in all eight directions but must stop to fire.
  This can be useful if you have Free Shot.  To stop hanging, either hit
  Jump to climb back on the platform or hit down and Jump to drop to lower
  ground.  The flip you do to climb back on the platform counts as a short-
  range attack.

Body Splash (Free Shot only): Hit Jump while in the air.  Smash enemies on
  your way down.

Jump Kick (Fixed Shot only): Hit Jump while in the air (while going up).
  I think it also works when you hold up while jumping and hit Jump.

Drop Kick (Fixed Shot only): Hit a downward direction and Jump while in
  the air.  Can also be done if jump is hit while coming down from a jump.
  If down/forward is used, you will move a tad faster while kicking.

Wall Jump: Hit Jump while close to the edge of a wall or the edge of
  the screen.  You will grab hold of the wall and jump from the wall.
  This can be used to climb enclosed spaces and to gain extra height on a
  jump to reach high platforms/enemies.

Block: hit Shot and Jump together.  Seems to reduce damage taken from enemy
  shots, but doesn't prevent the enemy from throwing you.  I'm not sure
  whether other attacks such as bombs or those claws from Pink's level are
  affected.



-----------------------
--FREE VS. FIXED SHOT--
-----------------------
When you first start the game, you're given the choice of Free or Fixed
Shot.  The differences are as follows:

Free Shot: You can move and shoot at the same time.  However, you can only
  fire in three directions, namely forward, diagonally up/forward, and up.
  (You can actually fire in five directions total, it's just that to fire
  in what would be the back and diagonally up/back you have to change
  directions, so it's just you firing forward while facing in the other
  direction.)  This has the advantage of great mobility; you can
  continually move and avoid enemy attacks while maintaining an attack.
  However, you can't shoot below you unless you jump in the air; thus,
  it's better to stay on the ground to keep all the enemies within firing
  range.

Fixed Shot: You can shoot in all eight directions, but must stop to shoot.
  Also, while you're shooting, you cannot crouch if you are already
  standing, since hitting down will simply shoot down.  Fixed Shot does
  better when you're on the higher platforms, since less enemies will jump
  on the platforms to get to you and flying enemies will be a lot closer
  and thus easier to shoot.  It is still possible to move while shooting
  by jumping, but even then the mobility is limited.

So, which one is better?  It depends partly on the style of play you like,
the weapon you have, and the enemy situation.  I've found that it's easier
to clear normal enemies when using a Free Shot, but that many of the bosses
are easier on Fixed Shot, due to the Fixed Shot ability to continue
shooting the opponent without bumping into it.  When playing two-player,
it's a good idea for one to be Free and one to be Fixed, since you can have
the advantages of both.



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--WEAPONS--
-----------
There are four different types of weapon available.  To make life even
more interesting, Treasure has given each character two weapon slots, so
that each character can have two weapons.  If both active, these weapons
combine their abilities into a new weapon with new abilities.  Unlike many
other games, you do not lose your weapon if you are hit, and you are free
to switch between either weapon and the combination at any time.


--Basic Weapons--
Force: Fires rapid shots of little orange balls.  Basically a speedy
  version of standard game weapon shots.  Works well with both Free and
  Fixed Shot.

Lightning: Fires long blue-white streams.  The advantage to lightning is
  that unlike other weapons, lighting will continue through enemies,
  meaning so long as you can aim at something you can hit it, regardless
  of what's in the way.  The rate of fire, however, is slow, so there are
  large gaps between the lightning pulses.  Works well with both Free and
  Fixed Shot.

Chaser: Fires small green triangles.  Chaser's claim to fame is, as the
  name indicates, that the shots all home at enemies.  Thus, one never has
  to aim with Chaser.  The standard Chaser will split its attention among
  all the enemies on the screen.  This, coupled with the relatively weak
  power, means that it might take a long time to clear the screen.  Works
  well with both Free and Fixed Shot, although since you don't have to aim,
  using this in Fixed Shot is somewhat wasteful.

Fire: Fires short stream of flame.  The most powerful of the standard
  weapons, Fire also has the shortest range.  Unlike Force and Lightning,
  Fire has no angle restrictions, i.e. it doesn't shoot _only_ in one of
  the eight directions if you rotate your aim, although your aim will
  eventually lock in one of those directions after you're done rotating.
  Fire works much better in Free Shot, since you must constantly move close
  towards your enemy.


--Weapon Combinations--
(I made up some funky names for fun)

Force + Force ("Writhing Blaster"): Shoots large orange balls in a stream
  that constantly wavers in its aim.  This makes it quite easy to hit
  enemies, since the wavering extends the area of effect.  Works with both
  Free and Fixed Shot.

Lightning + Lightning ("Laser Beam"): Same as the normal lightning, except
  that the beam now has no breaks.  Works with both Free and Fixed Shot.

Chaser + Chaser ("Star Chaser"): Works the same as the normal Chaser,
  except that the triangles have been replaced with stars and the speed and
  power have been improved.  You can keep a reserve of stars by shooting
  while no enemies are around; a number of stars will circle you for
  awhile, ready to head towards the next target you see.  Works with both
  Free and Fixed Shot, although again the lack of aiming makes Fixed Shot a
  bit pointless.

Fire + Fire ("Flamethrower"): The normal Fire effect, just double the range
  (which is quite an improvement).  Works with both Free and Fixed Shot;
  the extra range gives Fixed Shot some more to play with.

Force + Lightning ("Laser Blaster"): Shoots rapid bolts of blue lightning.
  The shots can go in any direction, meaning the spread is much larger if
  you wave around your aim, as bolts will go flying in every direction.
  This does slow down your turning speed as you change your aim, however,
  so if you really need to take down that enemy behind you _now_, you
  should stop firing, aim behind you, and then start firing.  Works with
  both Free and Fixed Shot.

Force + Chaser ("Homing Blaster"): Shoots a stream of large orange balls
  that have limited self-aiming abilities.  Note that unlike the other
  Chaser combinations Homing Blaster will not hit all of the enemies, just
  those within the general direction of where you're aiming, so there's
  still a bit of aiming work involved, although you can usually get enemies
  up to 60 degrees or so of where you're aiming, so it's pretty lenient.
  The one large problem with this weapon is that it is the only Chaser
  variant that can only focus on one enemy at a time, making it inefficient
  for clearing the large groups of enemies you will undoubtedly see.  Works
  with both Free and Fixed Shot; the need for (some) aiming gives this
  weapon some benefit in Fixed Shot.

Force + Fire ("Grenade Launcher"): Shoots the large orange balls we all
  know and love.  The firing rate is the slowest in the game, but the
  orange balls this time are explosive -- if they hit anything, they
  explode into a large-radius attack.  This makes the Grenade Launcher a
  great crowd clearer.  Also, the ball can be blown up at any time.  Just
  hold down the Shot button to fire, then release it when you want to
  detonate and the ball will automatically explode.  This allows for a
  great deal of control in your shots; you can rapidly tap the Shot button
  to get a short-range shield of explosions, or you can wait until you
  shoot two balls before detonating both.  You can also take out enemies by
  shooting in the general area and detonating the ball when it gets close.
  Works with both Free and Fixed Shot.

Lightning + Chaser ("Circuit Chaser"):  One of the most interesting weapon
  combinations, where the lightning will travel in a squarish paths around
  the screen hitting enemies.  What's nice about this weapon is that it can
  hit anything at any time due to the lightning, and it self-aims.  Also,
  it is one of the most efficient weapons; if an enemy takes a long time to
  kill, the Circuit Chaser will gather in a small square around the enemy,
  which doesn't waste any time since it doesn't travel from your gun.  Note
  that the Circuit Chaser will try to focus on any target, however, so at
  times it is necessary to re-aim because it's stuck on some unbreakable
  sandbag or other inanimate target.  Also, it is sometimes necessary to
  re-aim when enemies get too close and the weapon's somewhere else on the
  screen to keep your character from getting punched.  Works with both Free
  and Fixed Shot, although again Fixed Shot is less useful.

Lightning + Fire ("Lightsaber"): The Lightsaber is the shortest-range
  weapon in the game, forcing you to get _very_ close to cause damage.
  However, there are some redeeming features.  For one, the Lightsaber is
  the most powerful weapon as well, so if you _do_ get close you can lay
  down an enormous amount of damage.  The other benefit of the Lightsaber
  is that, similar to its namesake, you can protect yourself from enemy
  shots.  Unfortunately you can't reflect the shots back, but if you wave
  the Lightsaber through enemy laser shots or small particle shots, the
  shots will disappear.  This opens up some new techniques where as a Free
  Shot you simply run towards enemies with the Lightsaber extended in front
  of you; shots from enemies in front of you will be absorbed by the
  Lightsaber, and it goes right through enemies as you run into them.
  Needless to say, this weapon is vastly more useful in Free Shot.

Chaser + Fire ("Fire Dragon"):  The strangest weapon in the game, Fire
  Dragon fires a large pulse of flame that then travels around the screen
  mowing down enemies.  While it's extremely powerful, the "dragon" is
  quite slow, so if you're surrounded by enemies it might be a problem
  unless you continually tap Shot to re-aim the dragon.  Further
  complicating matters is that the dragon can be controlled by tapping a
  direction while holding down Shot.  Unless you've got a handle on
  controlling the dragon, however, this can be quite dangerous, so avoid
  this weapon until you spend some time to practice with it.  Fire Dragon
  works better with Fixed Shot, since you won't be running around and
  possibly dropping off platforms and whatnot while you're controlling the
  dragon.



----------------
---DISCLAIMER---
----------------
(c)1999 Sherwin Tam
This is my personal handiwork, and I took a lot of effort to write it.
Please do not use this commercially or alter it in any way.  Also, please
ask me if you plan to feature it on a web site or something of that nature,
as I'd rather not come across it one day and go, "Hey, how did that get
there?"



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---CREDITS---
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Treasure for making a great Genesis game.

Jmangamer for telling me how to do the Power Slide.

Seishino(Chris) for reminding me about all the things you can throw.