We've selected Gunstar Heroes for
On-File's first game of the month, and for good reason... this
intense Treasure shooter stunned most of fandom with its unique
gameplay and impressive special effects. Not everyone was blown away
by the game, however... the notoriously cynical Todd Lintner
lambasted Gunstar Heroes in his fanzine MASTERminds, calling it
shallow and "redundant". We'll begin with a more positive review of
this Genesis classic, brought to us by Brian Pacula of The Good, The
Bad, and the Eight-Bit.
Good, The Bad, and The Eight-Bit #7|
Reviewed by Brian
On utopian planet Gunstar-9, there is a
crisis. Traitor Gunstar Green has made off with the four peace
keeping crystals (how come all game lands require four crystals to
keep them from falling into chaos? Why is that?), so of course his
loving brothers must blast him to kibble to recover them. How?
Select from a vast array of weaponry and combine them for more
Once you take the gems from the thief's
charred, writhing, near-death body, the baddies kidnap yer best gal
Yellow. Save her and you get to board a starfighter, lead an assault
on the enemy's battleship, then enter it to destroy the legendary
golem, Golden Silver. All in all a typical day.
Gunstar Heroes is incredible! Sega, get a
clue! Hype this cart to death, it's one of the few that deserves
it!!! The action will blow your mind, even if you don't LIKE action
games! The bosses are great, ranging from the innocuous Curry and
Rice to the lethal Seven Force, Green's mighty morphin' warmech.
Scaling and rotation run rampant and are just as good (if not
better) than on the Super NES. This game is one of the best I've
ever seen on ANY system.
|From Fantazine #5|
Treasure, the development
house full of refugees from Konami who defected to Sega, is aptly
named indeed. Gunstar Heroes had me constantly looking at my Genesis
to confirm that, indeed, that's where those graphics were coming
from. This game is proof that Genesis owners have been dealt a raw
hand for three years. Sure, there have been great games for the
system, but this is evidence that they could have been
Gunstar Heroes is a lot like Contra, but
with greater originality and more options. For example, at the
beginning of the game you can choose whether you want a character
who can fire and run at the same time, or one who has better control
over the 360 degree range of firing. I found that the fixed fire
option worked better for me, because there's so much going on that
if you need to move around to accurately aim your weapon you'll get
hit a lot more often. Also, the game's four basic weapons can be
combined with one another for a wide variety of super weapons. Grab
chaser and rapid and you'll get a rapid chaser, or just get two of a
kind for a more powerful version of that weapon.
Technique is important here as well.
Aside from the usual run and gun action, the heroes can jump kick or
belly flop on enemies, slide, and block unfriendly fire. They also
climb like monkeys, jump off walls, and can grab opponents and throw
them into walls or other baddies. They can even throw each other
into the enemy! These are versatile guys.
The main bad guy is an M. Bison
look-alike with a mean streak and an evil laugh. You face off with
him several times throughout the game, but he's probably the least
impressive of all the bosses you'll come across. Especially
unbelievable is level two's Seven Force, a huge robot that
transforms up to seven times depending on the difficulty level. On
normal alone, fighting off five of his forms is one of the most
intense battles ever seen on ANY system.
Then there's Black's Dice Maze, where you
roll dice to move across a board game. The only catch is that each
stop is a boss fight!!! Luckily, there are "happy item rooms" to
replenish your health and change weapons.
I could go on about all the scaling,
rotation, and other effects to be found in Gunstar, but I don't want
to ruin all the surprises for those who have yet to play the game.
Absolutely the best Genesis game ever released in terms of overall
impression, Gunstar Heroes does for the action genre what Street
Fighter II did for fighting games.
|From MASTERminds #13|
by Todd Lintner
With this game, Sega tries to
make up for all its recent mistakes, like Jurassic Park and the
acquisition of the Barney license. Gunstar Heroes takes your basic
side-scrolling Contra rip-off, gives it a fresh new look, and makes
everything blow up real big. In intensity, it rivals even the
Thunder Force series, and at times its speed threatens to break the
Sonic sound barrier.
The narrative is completely derivitive of
just about every shooter on the market: You must save your homeland
from evil forces. At the start, you must choose from two characters
(in two player mode, each person is one or the other), Gunstar Red
or Gunstar Blue. Red can shoot while moving, almost a necessity,
while Blue can only shoot while standing still. He appears to have
no other attributes to make up for this, making him the choice for a
player who isn't satisfied with just playing on the hard
Unfortunately, Gunstar Heroes received a
lot of pre-release hype from GameFan, the only magazine that I know
of that reviews games "optimistically". Try thinking of us, the
people who do not think so optimistically of you after we buy a game
you gush over only to discover that it's a piece of crap. Of course,
they don't have to blow fifty plus dollars on every game they get,
do they? Sorry for getting off track, but it does apply to this
game. The scores GameFan gave it were way too high, and when E.
Storm said, "I'm sure I'll go back to it often, for years and I'm
quite sure you will to [sic].", he must have been at least
temporarily insane. Sure, everybody at the Summer CES thought it was
great, but that's because they had little time to play it. Once
you've beaten it, you'll never want to lay eyes on it again. I don't
care if I completed it on the Easy level, missed some forms of the
bosses, or saw a weaker ending. All Gunstar Heroes is good for is
short-term fun, with or without a friend. So it goes without saying
that you should rent this. But after all the explosions die down and
all the breathtaking special effects become mundane, all you're left
with is a redundant shoot 'em up.
|From Matrix3 #6|
How many people out there remember the original
Contra? Now how many people remember the more recent Contra 3, which
had excellent ideas but come up short in the fun department? Well,
it took a while, but a company- and a newcomer, at that!- has
successfully combined themes from Contra, Strider, and Mega Man. The
result is Gunstar Heroes, one of the best Genesis games
I won't bother with the archetypical
storyline. Suffice it to say that the result of the story is a
gunfight of unbelievable intensity, with amazing special effects and
impressive weaponry. Yeah, I think you get the idea.
You start the game by choosing whether to
use fixed shot (which means that you can't move while firing) or
free shot. Using fixed shot gives you an advantage while fighting
some of the bosses, but tends to break up the gameplay, so I suggest
the free shot mode.
Then you start the game. It's a
side-scrolling shooter in the Contra vein, but with enhanced, well,
everything! The weapon system is done in an unusual style: you can
have up to two weapons at once. These can be used in tandem to
create a third weapon... a combination of rapid or laser will create
a rapid-fire laser, for instance. All in all, there's about twenty
different guns in the game.
The really cool thing is hitting enemies
with gunfire. In Gunstar Heroes, everything explodes violently and
spectacularly. When I say everything, I mean it! Even the smallest
enemies let loose a very satisfying explosion when destroyed. And
the bosses... WOW!
This isn't one of those games that only
throws a few enemies at you at once. At times, you'll find over
twenty things on screen gunnin' for you in Gunstar Heroes. This does
tend to slow down the Genesis, but there's so much going on that you
probably wouldn't notice unless you were looking for it.
The sound is spectacular as well. I liked
most of the music, although some of it is a bit uninspired. But it
doesn't matter because most of the time you'll hear nothing but
gunfire and explosions. When you do have time for a breather, that
more than likely means one of the truly amazing bosses is on its
The bosses in Gunstar Heroes are
unbelievable! Some of the special effects have never been done
before on the Genesis. Rotation and scaling run rampant, and the
animation is as smooth as possible. The bosses range in difficulty,
with Seven Force, which has up to seven forms that need to be
defeated seperately, being the hardest.
As I'm sure you can guess, the graphics
are great. They aren't realistic or anything- they aren't supposed
to be!- but they shine with a consistantly high quality that adds to
Gunstar Heroes' luster. The highlights of the graphics and animation
are, of course, the fiery explosions that fill the screen on such a
frequent basis. Many of the larger enemies have chaining techniques
used for their animation, such as the aforementioned Seven Force.
Overall, I have nothing but compliments
for Treasure and this technological triumph. The only area of the
game that could be significantly improved is the differences between
the characters. When you're playing a two player game, the
characters look too much alike. This is a minor problem, though, and
should be taken lightly. I highly recommend this game to anyone and
|From Project: Ignition
Reviewed by Josh Lesnick
It takes a lot to get ME to like a shooter, as I pretty much
avoid them at all costs. The Contra-type shooters are the worst,
though... they always require memorization throughout the game and
because one hit will massacre you, I spend too much time worrying
about getting hit to have any fun.
Enter Gunstar Heroes. First: you have a
long life bar so you don't have to worry about dropping dead every
ten seconds. Second: the weapons are the best I've ever seen in a
shooter and the method of combining them is brilliant. Third: the
attention to detail is superb, the explosions are perfect, the
special effects are nothing short of stunning, and there's even a
level played entirely on a monitor that's viewed by the villians,
which produces a unique effect. Fourth, the game is FUN! You get to
blow lots of things up and it's got bosses which require technique
(and NOT memorization) to defeat! And fifth, sixth, and seventh...
two player simultaneous gameplay, two methods of control (I prefer
fixed shot, myself), and unlimited continues (why the hell do people
complain about this? I HATE starting over!).
I never fully explained the items on my
list, but it shouldn't take an idiot (Mike Judge? Todd Capriotti?
Oh, and especially Tom Kalinske?!) to figure them out! To sum it up,
the only reason I can't call Gunstar Heroes game of the year is
because I'm a biased, shooter-dodging RPG chugger (Shining Force!
Shining Force!), but if you dig shooters, BUY IT NOW!. But if
you're like me, just rent it.
|From Video Zone #26|
by Chris Kohler
After hearing about this game and how great it is
for five year now, I finally had to buy it now that I had a Genesis.
After countless fan-eds (especially Jess Ragan) had extolled its
virtues, I didn't think it could possibly live up to its reputation.
Impressively, it did. Gunstar Heroes is nothing less than an
incredible game. You and a friend guide little super-deformed
characters through five fast-paced stages. The game plays similarly
to Contra, but not only is it more fast-paced, it's also more fun.
The different weapons available are widely varied, and you can carry
two at a time or combine them if you want to create different super
weapons. But most of the time, you won't be concerned with weapon
strategy- you'll be too busy blasting everything in sight as you
dodge enemy fire. Gunstar Heroes is the epitome of mindless fun and
proves that, if anyone at Sega had a brain, the Genesis could have
won its battle against the Super NES.
|From Project: Ignition
Reviewed by Jess Ragan
Spare no details. That's obviously what Genesis newcomers
Treasure were thinking when they created Gunstar Heroes. While it's
true that Gunstar Heroes' main attraction is its frenetic,
Contra-style battles, it's hard to ignore the game's incredible
special effects. When Treasure skipped town on the rapidly declining
Konami, it's obvious that they took along a nice little bag of
Genesis tricks that their former employers never bothered to
We all know about Gunstar Heroes'
intense, mile-a-second action, but what most people fail to mention
is the vast number of little things that make this game a true work
of art. Treasure realized that fighting the game's hordes of crazed
mining robots would get repetitive after a short while, so they
actually gave them personalities to help offset that problem. These
little guys are everywhere, but the fact that each one actually
thinks of ways to attack you makes them easy to warm up to,
just like the fuzzy stars of Lemmings. If you look carefully, you'll
find them pulling guns from their holsters, sleeping on the job, and
cheering on their superiors... it's almost a shame that they blow up
There are tons of details like these
throughout Gunstar Heroes, and that alone seperates the game from
mindless shooters like Contra. Is it any wonder that it's my pick
for the best game of 1993?
|From Video Universe
Reviewed by Ara
Treasure has done the impossible with Gunstar
Heroes, mixing incredible visuals with equally incredible gameplay.
SInce this is an action-platformer game, I'm not going to bother
with describing the bland plot that many of these games have
(including this one). But Gunstar Heroes is no ordinary game. When
you turn on your Genesis, you're greeted with some awesome
pseudo-3D, pseudo-scaling and rotation efects. But they're so well
done I had to check under my system to see if someone had slipped in
a Sega CD while I wasn't looking.
There are about seven levels; you can
choose the order in which you select the first four. There are
unlimited continues, so it's not too hard to finish unless you use
the highest difficulty setting... ugh! You can also pick up four
different weapons which can be combined or used seperately You also
get to choose between "free shot" and "fixed shot" (ie being able to
move when the fire button is pressed or not). The problem with this
is that in some places, it's better to have fixed shot, and in
others, it's better to have free. Guys, it's called a six-button
pad. Sega has one now. Those extra three buttons aren't there for
Considering the limitations of the
Genesis, the background music is very well done. But remember, it's
still the same old sound chip inside, and it's not CD quality by any
stretch of the imagination.
There are lots of bosses. Instead of a
life meter, the bosses' hit points are displayed with numbers. Not
that that's amazing or anything, but it's this and tons of other
little details that make Gunstar Heroes so good. The two player
option is great, but I wish Treasure added an option to turn off the
ability to throw your friend, which happens about 32,678 times per
game. It happens even more if you play with someone who isn't
exactly your best friend. This is supposed to be an attack maneuver,
but it never really does anything advantageous.
I've got some whining to do about the
control, too. It takes getting used to 'cause it's waaay too easy to
jump off walls when you don't want to, landing you right into... you
guessed it, that enigmatic infinitely deep pit at the bottom of the
screen. Also, the ending is only average. But I'm being waaay too
picky. Gunstar Heroes isn't a game you'll get tired of in a few
days... It's a refreshing change of pace from the standard action
game. Too bad those Treasure guys don't like to make
|From Sub-Zero #5|
Reviewed by Chris Dyer
After buying this for a mere $20 (ha, ha, ha!!!),
I can only say that I was TRULY amazed! Gunstar Heroes has awesome
special effects and the BEST graphics I have EVER seen in a 16-bit
game! This even has Mode 7 effects... MODE 7 EFFECTS!!! Great music!
Perfect gameplay! Perfect game!!! You absolutely HAVE to see the
bosses! They kick butt! Get this