3D Gunstar Heroes Review
I recently reviewed developer M2's 3D take on Streets of Rage 2 for Nintendo's 3DS handheld, and I feel like I could copy and paste that review onto this one and be just fine. M2 has shown they have an unparalleled mastery over not just porting classic Sega Genesis titles to the 3D handheld, but also making them even better than we remember by sneaking in all sorts of fun little embellishments and Easter eggs. What they were able to do with Streets of Rage 2 was nothing short of astonishing, and I knew going in that their treatment of my all time favorite Genesis game and the title that made me fall in love with developer Treasure would be nothing short of spectacular. Guess what? I was right. Gunstar Heroes manages to unseat Streets of Rage 2 as the top Sega 3D Classic available, and at a bargain basement price, it is simply unacceptable if a 3DS system exists without this game installed on it. Old fans or new, EVERYONE needs this modern take on an all time classic on their must-play list.
If you didn't play Gunstar Heroes back in the Genesis days, I'll bring you up to speed. The game is easily the most intense run-and-gun shooter of the 16-bit era, with screens full of enemies, huge boss battles and some of the best co-op gameplay this side of the original Contra. It also served as the basis and jumping off point for every excellent Treasure-developed game since, and it can be seen as one of their greatest accomplishments to date - there's a reason it has been ported and reported to so many systems over the years. Aside from the fast-aced gameplay, most people remember a game that was extremely challenging but never unfair, requiring plenty of time invested to learning weapons and patterns if you wished to even reach, let alone best, the game's final boss. Simply put, Gunstar Heroes was and is a master class in game design and one of those titles you really must play before you ever refer to yourself as a serious gamer.
Seeing as most reading this are undoubtedly at least a little familiar with the game, let's talk about M2's treatment of it. I daresay this is the best version of the game that has ever seen release. The original game is represented extremely well, and features almost none of the occasional slowdown that plagued the original 16-bit release. The added 3D, which many might assume it just a nice bonus on an already great title, really adds a lot of depth to the field and makes the game pop like it never has before. And the drop in/drop out co-op is in place as well, letting a friend jump into the game when you need an extra itchy trigger finger. Of course, most will want to play beginning to end, but both scenarios provide a ton of fun. Like Streets of Rage 2, M2 has popped in a few Easter eggs for fans to enjoy, but I'll let you discover them on your own. It simply would be a disservice to every reader or interested party to ruin the surprise.
M2's Gunstar Heroes is not just a new benchmark for 3D Classics titles, but also an unquestionable must-play game for every 3DS owner. The controls and gameplay are as tight as ever, the co-op is still tons of fun and this version corrects the occasional slowdown of what many already considered to be the perfect side-scrolling shooter. For the price of one of those wretched-looking Halloween Whoppers at Burger King, you can own the best version of one of the most important games of the 16-bit era. Who can say no to that? Whether you never played the game before or have distinct memories of hand cramps and explosive outbursts of profanity when the enemies finally bested you, everyone needs to give this masterpiece a shot. If this review seems a bit on the short side, it is because buying M2's Gunstar Heroes should be a no-brainer. The game was near perfect then and is even closer to perfection now. Go get this one, like, yesterday.
Final Rating: 98% - Still close to perfection, just as it always was.
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.