Review by LeTravino
Megaman Was A Cowboy in a Past Life
Set in the old west sometime during the 1800's, Gunman Clive is a retroactive, side-scrolling platformer and shooter that is truly reminiscent of the days of old, and in more ways than just one.
You play as Clive, a Cowboy on the hunt for Ms. Johnson, the mayor's daughter, who was kidnapped by a group of renegades, probably for ransom. You shoot, jump, climb and, yes, even fly, through 20 stages, with each fifth stage containing a massive boss of some sort, from a beefy, Rambo-esque character with a massive minigun, to a transforming robot train. These bosses, along with the enemies themselves, are colorful and creative in their own right, given the limitations one would think would exist when creating a game set in the Old Wild West.
While the plot itself may be a bit cliche [SPOILER ALERT: It was aliens], the game itself is smooth and rich. The graphic style is truly unique, really capturing the feel of the old dusty west, with bland beige as a base background, with moving sketches of backgrounds. The characters are all 3D Cel Shaded models, and are colored differently from the beige backgrounds [i.e. Clive is an umber color, Ms. Johnson is pink, and most enemies are blue] to give them more life. However, the only setback with this is that the backgrounds, though in motion, look unfinished and rather boring, while the foreground looks amazing in contrast. Whether it was done on purpose is to be debated, but, despite this, it all comes together beautifully. The 3D effect is somewhat hindered by the moving, sketchbook-quality backgrounds, but it shines the most if not used at full power.
The controls are incredibly smooth, and extremely simple. B to jump, Y to shoot, the D-Pad or Circle Pad to move, down to duck, and start to pause. The touch screen is inactive and acts as a small map, showing your progress through each stage. One thing that irked me, personally, was the lack of ability to aim upwards, either vertically or diagonally, making hitting flying and higher-up enemies a pain. Yet, this seemed to help me realize, though a chain of events, the very game that was the inspiration behind it - Megaman. Mainly the original.
That's right. It seems like Megaman was a Cowboy in a past life, and he kicked just as much ass as he ever has as his futuristic, robot self. If you don't believe me, take a closer look, and you'll see a ton of similarities. Some would suggest that these are blatant ripoffs, but they are made their own in this game, and these are only just a few:
- You can only shoot 3 bullets at a time - no charge shot
- You can't aim upward or diagonally, but you can duck
- There are puzzles with the Megaman trademark disappearing squares, though in Gunman Clive, these squares shrink to a near invisible size rather than disappearing completely
- Blocks that shoot out bolts of electricity, just like in Elecman's Stage in Megaman, even in the same pattern, though some do move
- Guns planted on walls and in the ground that pop up and simultaneously shoot five bullets in a half-circle pattern, almost perfect replicas of those that appear prominently in the Bombman and Dr. Wily stages of Megaman
There are also nods to a few other retro games, my personal favorite being a boss that's a carbon copy of Rad Spencer of Bionic Commando fame. Noticing and being able to name these homages made me feel good, and I knew that the makers of this game wanted to make something they enjoyed. Some may call these things ripoffs, but I call them honorable mentions - a nod to games past that the makers truly admired.
Difficulty is hardly an issue in this game. Normal Mode is very mild, and easy to run through [I made it to the first boss before dying the first time], and the difficulty does get steeper as the stages roll on by, but it never becomes excruciatingly difficult. Any new or experienced gamer can really find a lot of joy in playing this title, without being either bored or tempted to put their 3DS through a wall. Also, there is indeed a Hard Mode, and a special mode for those who beat the game on seemingly any difficulty.
Also, it is worth mentioning that, for the people feeling the need for female-empowerment, you can reverse the role and play as Ms. Johnson, and attempt to rescue Clive, reversing the roles of the hero and the damsel in distress.
Power-ups are existent in this game as well. Cake serves as your health restoration, and there are a multitude of weapons you can get, including a shotgun that shoots in three directions, a mild homing bullet, a massive, explosive round, and some funky alien spray-type weapon that actually proves to be extremely powerful. The only setback behind this is that it's extremely difficult to tell which power-up is which - most of the gun power-ups look alike, a small, floating gun. The only way to tell which weapon it is is to look carefully; each gun as a slightly different shape.
All in all, with 20 stages and 4 bosses, this game is, indeed, short, playing about as long as a classic NES title, roughly 45 minutes. However, it is truly worth the cheap price of $1.99 - and is probably the best two bucks I've spent on the eShop yet. The right to play as different characters, including the special mode character (which I'll avoid mentioning), and at different difficulties makes this a game you'll want to enjoy again and again. It also carries the unique quality of old NES titles, in that, down the road, you'll rediscover the game and want to play it and experience its wonders all over again. For the retro gamer on the go who is looking for a fresh, new experience with the same feel as the days of old, or for the new gamer looking for something enjoyable and not-too-easy-not-too-tough, I certainly recommend buying this game.
Besides. What harm is spending two bucks? I'm sure you'll find that under the couch cushions.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Gunman Clive (US, 01/03/13)
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