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Gunstar Super Heroes Package Art

Gunstar Super Heroes

Oh, no! Someone has collected the five moon crystals and is trying to resurrect the God of Ruin again! This hasn't happened in over a decade, but thanks to Treasure and Sega, it's happening once more. First there was 1993's Gunstar Heroes on the Sega Genesis, and now, twelve years later, Treasure has developed a fantastic sequel with plenty of button-mashing shoot-em-up action. Gunstar Super Heroes is sure to please any side-scrolling action fan, if not make any devotee of the original practically wet himself in excitement.


Gunstar Super Heroes is visually outstanding. The variety of robots, unique monster designs, environments, modes of transportation and the array of colors used for the stages are captivating. Character design is standard "cute animé minis saving the world," and while they aren't very original, they do date back to the early 90s. Considering that, they have some pretty decent upgrades and look much better than they did in 1993.

The stage environments are so diverse and colorful there is always a surprise, and some even feature pseudo-3D segments that use the GBA's capabilities to the max. If not fighting atop a flying aircraft and flipping around to attack behind and in front of you, missiles and trucks must be dodged as they fly in from the fore or background.


The musical soundtrack uses the ever-so-exciting synth guitar and drum arrangements that are standard to this genre, especially when the prequel came out. Yet where Gunstar Super Heroes' audio really shines isn't so much in the music but sound effects. The game's menus (of which there are surprisingly many) are filled with cheery blips and echoing beeps that make just moving around the "outside" of game much more exciting than the sterile effects on other games' menu screens. In-game sounds are pretty loud and hectic, and some bosses have full voice dialogue before a battle against them begins.


The game's objective is to travel to five moons and collect crystals that, if collected by the evil Empire, could be used to summon the God of Ruin and bring about some arbitrary doom. Each moon has two to four stages with often wildly varying challenges to keep the player on his toes. A total of three selectable difficulty levels ensures gamers of all skill levels will enjoy the title, although it's never an easy affair regardless of the level selected. Expect to be challenged, especially when you'll be dumped at the start of a level or a checkpoint with whatever health was accumulated at that point if you die.

In addition to the excellent side-scrolling shooting and platforming action that dominates the game, Gunstar Super Heroes has many different gameplay modes interspersed throughout its stages. Some more memorable examples include the aforementioned 3D level that has the hero standing on top of a flying aircraft to shoot down oncoming enemy aircrafts from the front and rear, another features riding a robot-dog through futuristic subway-style tunnels to a boss, and yet another has a casino-like, Russian Roulette styled interface that decides what mini-games you will play to advance the game.

If that weren't enough, there are two playable characters with slightly different primary weapons and the game's story is subtly different depending on which character and difficulty levels are chosen. Further, each playable character's attacks can be upgraded throughout the game.

The relatively thin story's integration into the gameplay is practically seamless. The main characters' (Blue and Red) scantily clad pilot Yellow pops up between stages to update the player on where he is in the game, provide briefs on the story's advancement, and explain an upcoming stage's challenges.

While Gunstar Super Heroes is beautiful, diverse and entertaining, it's also very short. The aforementioned five moons comprise the whole game. Thankfully, replay value is higher than normal due to the different storylines and the randomly selected mini-bosses and games on the last moon.




Gunstar Super Heroes is very satisfying. The gameplay variety and overall visual and audio experience is outstanding-- if only such a fun game were lengthier. Otherwise, we're not surprised that Gunstar Super Heroes was voted best GBA game at E3 by numerous publications. It's definitely worth checking out.

final score 9.0/10

Staff Avatar Christopher Berstler
Staff Profile | Email
"None of these are the real me!"

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