Treasure is back with another white-knuckle 2-D action game.
Fans of the Gunstar Heroes series will be pleased to hear that Sega is bringing its next installment, Gunstar Super Heroes, to the GBA. Picking up where Advance Guardian Heroes left off, Gunstar Super Heroes offers the same kind of non-stop, over-the-top 2-D fighting action that the series is
The setup of the game will feel very familiar to those that have played Advance Guardian Heroes. You choose between a Red character and a Blue character and then select your difficulty - Easy, Normal, or Hard. You then select a level. In this case you can choose from several different planets, depending on how far you've made it in the game with either character. There are several different "episodes" for each planet. For example, the first few episodes for Earth are numbered 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, etc. The next major stage would be 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, and so on. All of your scores and performance statistics are saved, so having these selectable episodes lets you play them out of sequence and go for
The graphics employ sprite scaling practically everywhere. In other words, most enemies in the game zoom in and out or rotate using "SNES Mode 7"-style effects. This allows some extremely creative game sequences, with enemies swooping in to attack from the background or launching missles at you from a distance. One of the most inventive uses of this gameplay mechanic is an early level in which you're standing on top of a ship piloted by your partner while being chased and fired upon by two planes in the background. You avoid missles by rotating your ship 360 degrees, destroying them when they come in close enough. It's very original, and reminds you just how innovative Treasure can be.
Controls take a little bit of getting used to, but once you get them down, you can do
some real damage. In fact, I think the control scheme scared off a lot of players on
the show floor, because if you didn't know what you were doing you'd get killed FAST.
It's obvious that Treasure is focusing on depth of control rather than having a gradual
learning curve, which isn't surprising since their games target a niche hardcore audience. In this case, the A button jumps and pressing A in the air executes a jump kick. B swings your saber, and pressing down and B executes a slide attack, which is very useful as a bail-out maneuvre because you can take out several enemies at a time.
You're also armed with a gun equipped with three different types of ammunition: a green
laser, a red fireball, and a blue energy ball. The L button cycles through the three
types, and the R button shoots them. You can also tap the R button twice quickly to unleash a super attack with your gun; for example, the green laser super attack is a
green energy blast that homes in on enemies as soon as they appear on the screen. These
super attacks are primarily useful against bosses and larger enemies.
The stage designs vary between futuristic cities and jungle levels, and from the looks of it, they will seem like one "boss stage" after another. By that I mean that every stage features some sort of dramatic confrontation that you must overcome before you move on to the next one. There are also levels that throw new game mechanics at you, like one in which you're riding a hoverbike that can either be at the top, middle, or bottom of the screen. You're tossed into this situation and have to adjust while enemies are attacking you - it gets pretty hectic. That's the way this game is meant to be; you always have to keep your guard up and pay attention. Fans of the series and hardcore action gamers should enjoy it immensely, but it probably won't appeal to casual gamers. I don't think Treasure would have it any other way.