Monday, November 23, 2015

Game Review: Gunman Clive 2 for 3DS

Every game I get to review, I want it to be good. Some developers are such stand-up people that I really hope their game is great when I get around to reviewing it. Gunman Clive 2 fits this bill. The game is even more impressive when you consider it was done by one man with the exception of testing, translation, and music. This guy definitely deserves all of the praise I'm going to give him because this game's polish is far superior to any triple-A title from last year and better yet, he did it all by himself. I missed the first game, but after playing the second entry in the series, I might just go ahead and pick that up too -- seriously, it's that good. GunmanClive2Banner

Graphics and Music
As any picture shows, the graphics are pretty distinct and have a neat hand-drawn feeling. The animation is smooth and varied and the color coding is a great help. To think the same man who programmed the game also did a good job with the visuals makes me jealous (but in a good way) for his talents. However, I would rather focus your attention to the music as the real star here. This is the one major thing not done by Bertil H├Ârberg. As soon as I started the game I placed my ear to listen to the opening screen's memorable tune. It gave me a feeling that rivals the classic The Legend of Zelda theme with its sweet opening. Great music makes you excited about the game even when not playing it and this album does the job! Actually, if nothing else go buy the soundtrack on bandcamp for $1.50. It's totally worth more. This recommendation comes from a guy who only bought the soundtracks for games like LoZ: Ocarina of Time, Xenoblade Chronicles, Okami, Kid Icarus Uprising, and To the Moon. This is a worthy addition to that library.

Gameplay
The simplest way I can describe Gunman Clive 2 is that it is to Mega Man what Bit Trip Runner is to Super Mario Bros. The levels are short, but generally require precision because one platforming mistake spells death which means doing the whole level over again. However, the game is quick to respawn players and the levels are really short so this isn't as bad as it may sound. Most of the time I died because I kept making the same stupid mistake or tried rushing too much. If it still sounds too rough for you don't worry because Bertil's got you covered. Select Easy Mode and you'll instead respawn to where you last touched ground at the cost of some health, which is plentiful in Easy Mode. I wish I knew about that system beforehand, but then I might not have felt so accomplished for beating the game on Normal. Then again, since the game is a good challenge even on Easy, you can still feel accomplished when you reach the credits.
 
The platforming is spot on and I'll attribute this to perfect programming on the 3DS system. This game absolutely belongs on the 3DS if for nothing else but the fact that you have both the Circle Pad and the D-Pad. For most of the game, I defaulted to the D-Pad for the solid platforming but when the game plays with gravity late in the game you will want the circle pad. I also found it amazing how the platforms could be so small or just seemingly out of reach but I was generally able to land on them. If you are the type of gamer that has trouble with platforming, don't worry because Bertil's got you covered again. Select your character at the start to be Ms. Johnson and you got Princess Peach with a gun complete with the float ability. Even if you do die, there is one aspect I'm surprised many developers have not adopted already; the music does not restart! For that, I sing odes to Bertil for letting us keep our sanity and enjoy the awesome tunes Arne H├Ârberg composed.
Each boss has its unique patterns, but still a challenge nonetheless
Each boss has its unique patterns, but still a challenge nonetheless

If you listen to me talk long enough about the 3D Legend of Zelda games, you'll probably hear me comment about how the enemies are done so perfectly that they only take a small number of hits and never over-populate the screen. The same is true in Gunman Clive 2. You never tire of fighting even when they reappear if you return to the environment a la Mega Man. Only the bosses take a lot of damage and are a real challenge. It's also worth mentioning how varied the bosses are ranging from a samurai to a t-rex to a giant robot. I died plenty of times fighting these bosses, but thanks to the lightning-fast respawn time and the fact that boss levels are their own stage, you eventually memorize the patterns and hone the skills necessary to triumph over them. My chief complaint would be the behind-the-back levels. It's cool that you get to ride a pterodactyl, but switching to flight mindset is pretty hard and I'm sure you'll die a few times before you get the hang of it and soar through it. To make it easier, I recommend using the circle pad for those two levels. For the horse one, the d-pad is the best due to the nature of aiming your gun as well as accelerating. Overall, this game is solid and I have yet to find a bug. Much laud to the one-man studio!
It's a cool concept, but I found it a bit hard to handle
It's a cool concept, but I found it a bit hard to handle

Replayability
While I found the game difficult and occasionally frustrating the first time through as I played it on Normal, discovering the mechanics in Easy mode and different characters makes it easy for me to replay and enjoy the game again and again. The different difficulty levels compounded with the different characters form a good excuse to test my skills again and again. I'm curious to see how it's possible to beat the game on hard using only Chieftan Bob's Spear or even Duck Mode where you control a duck and try to fly through the level.

Overall
Tired of waiting for Capcom to finally release a good Mega Man game? This game is for you. It's perfect on the 3DS with solid platforming, music, and bosses. It's friendly to those who make mistakes but you still feel accomplished even if you play it on Easy with the Gun Version of Princess Peach. By the way, did I mention you get to ride a panda and a triceratops while hunting ducks? This game feels absolutely crazy, but it is awesome!

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