Gorgeous visuals; awesome gameplay; simple controls; 3 unique, playable characters; many references to classic games; good use of 3D
Short game length; difficulty level may not be for everyone
One of the best things about reviewing games is that sometimes, you end up pleasantly surprised by a game you might not have given a shot otherwise. Take Gunman Clive, for example. The game has a very unique visual style, and a setting that wouldn’t have made me rush out to download it. But I am so, so happy that I did.
Gunman Clive starts off like many other classic side-scrolling games: the main character’s significant other is kidnapped, and it’s up to Clive (or Ms. Johnson, depending on which character you pick) to save the day. It’s a pretty basic story, but it’s worked well for Mario, so why mess with perfection? Once your significant other has been captured (in an insanely brief opener), you’ll be jumping and shooting your way through each stage until you’re reunited.
The game’s controls are simple enough. Our main character Clive handles a bit like Mega Man, minus the ability to pick up enemy abilities. The game does offer a few power-ups that change the strength and frequency of his shots, albeit temporarily. Ms. Johnson controls similarly, but with one notable exception: her controls will feel very familiar for anyone that’s a fan of a particular princess from the Mushroom Kingdom.
One of Gunman Clive’s greatest strengths is the amount of classic influences that can be found throughout. As well as paying homage to Super Mario Bros., the developers were clearly fans of titles such as Bionic Commando, Donkey Kong Country (two words: mine cart), The Legend of Zelda and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. The result is a package that feels like a love letter to classic gaming, and old school fans will eat it up.
One of the first things that gamers are going to notice about Gunman Clive is the game’s aforementioned visual flair. While it might take some getting used to, there’s something very charming to it, and pictures just don’t do it justice. It simply has to be seen in motion for it to really be appreciated. It fits perfectly with the setting, while also maintaining a very “indie” sensibility to it. A perfect choice for an eShop title. It’s one of the things I love about downloadable games: developers can make choices that might be deemed too risky for retail. The game also boasts a couple of cool 3D effects, as well.
Gunman Clive isn’t going to appeal to everyone, though. It has a pretty decent difficulty, and it’s also pretty short. While that might sound contradictory, I promise it isn’t. I died a total of 97 times (the game keeps track, embarrassingly enough) and still finished the game in under two hours. Luckily, the game does offer a bit of replay value by way of an unlockable third character. I promise, he or she handles mighty differently from both Clive and Ms. Johnson.
Gunman Clive is kind of the ideal downloadable title. It offers a good challenge, visuals that you won’t find in a retail package, and, most importantly, it’s a lot of fun. While the short length is a bit of a turn-off, the diversity in the game’s three playable characters should add some extra incentive to revisit the game. I know I already plan on it. I’m hoping we get a sequel or some downloadable content, though, because I’m not ready for Clive and Ms. Johnson to mosey off into the sunset just yet.