Gunstar Heroes charged onto the Sega Mega Drive in 1993, significantly marking the début of quirky developer Treasure, having been formed from ex-Konami staff wanting to go it their own way. Often seen floating near to the top of many 'best game ever' lists, Gunstar Heroes is a bona-fide classic of the 16-bit era that's now available to download from the Japanese 3DS eShop.
As 3D Gunstar Heroes is part of Sega's 3D Classics range, the porting duties are once again handled by the experts at M2 who've poured all their usual love, care and attention into this new version. In all fairness, a straight up port would have been just fine; Gunstar Heroes pushed the limit of what could be achieved on Sega's then-aging console, bringing with it a plethora of incredible graphic effects that many didn't think possible. Together with Treasure's unique graphic style, explosive pyrotechnics and not a hint of slowdown, it easy to see how Gunstar Heroes wowed gamers back in the day.
Thankfully, Gunstar Heroes looks just as impressive now on the screen of a Nintendo 3DS, the resolution seemingly a perfect fit for emulating Mega Drive titles. Switch up the 3D slider and it's immediately clear that M2 have thought long and hard about how to retro-fit a stereoscopic effect; most of the time it's rather subtle, but every so often it can be really striking. As an example, during the climb up (and sliding down) of the block shaped steps of the first stage, the sense of depth is fantastic and much more pronounced. For a game that's largely 2D, it's a wonderfully considered implementation.
As usual M2 have added in a fair few extra options and modes, such as emulating the look and feel of old curved CRTs; however, it''s worth noting that there isn't a widescreen option - the game is viewed in 4:3 ratio at all times, (which is also the case with the other Mega Drive 3D Classics). You can even switch between Japanese and 'overseas' game versions, which effectively swaps the text into English, and vice-versa. The storylines are a touch different in translation, but in practice the actual game itself is identical.
One of Gunstar Heroes' key gameplay features is the ability to combine the abilities of the two weapons you're holding in order to create a hybrid. M2 have added a new option that enables the player to permanently hold all four weapon types in both weapon slots, cycling through them with either the left or right trigger. This effectively grants access to all weapon combinations instantly; normally you are restricted by weapon drops and only being able to carry two types at any one time (note; you can carry two of the same type). This actually changes quite dramatically how you approach the game; being able to instantly swap to any attack of your choosing creates many new strategic options.
Another way in which Gunstar Heroes differs from most other run-and-gun shooters (such as the Metal Slug or Contra series) is the use of a life system. When hit you don't die instantly; instead a chunk of life is lost from the meter. This helps Gunstar Heroes feel much more accessible than other games in this genre where one hit deaths can make for a swift game-over. M2 have added the option to double the capacity of your life meter from 100 to 200; however make no mistake, it's still no push-over. That said, combine the new all-weapons option with doubled life meter and suddenly the end game seems much more achievable for new players - especially when used in conjunction with the all-important save state functionality.
A great feature of the original was the simultaneous two player co-op mode, which is also present and correct via local play only (and both players will need a copy of the game). It's totally worth the investment though, as playing together with a friend is a superb experience and there's something very satisfying about chucking your mate into an oncoming enemy.
What's really great about Gunstar Heroes is the variety contained within its classic run, shoot and jump formula; there are many twists and surprises, including a brief spell as a 2D 'shmup' and the infamous Black's dice maze, which sees the player having a quick bout of Mario Party board game madness, throwing a dice to find out their fate. Gunstar Heroes is a superb tour-de-force of variety, incredible graphics and fittingly rousing soundtrack that also happens to be an absolute joy to play in both single and co-operative play.
The new 3DS version brings to the table some well thought out optional tweaks to the gameplay and is immaculately presented, with lovely auto-stereoscopic 3D finishing off the package. Fans of the action genre should be chomping at the bit for the western release and if you've never experienced Treasure's original masterpiece, this represents the perfect opportunity to do so. We'll let you know the confirmed release dates as soon as they are announced, but in the meantime this is definitely a worthy addition for your most-wanted list.
Screenshot credit: Hardcore Gaming 101.
"One of Gunstar Heroes' key gameplay features is the ability to combine your permanent starter weapon (selected from one of four at the beginning) with weapon drops (of the other three types) found during play in order to create new hybrids."
Is this right? The way it always was when I played it was that you start off with one of the weapons, but it wasn't permanent and you could fill your two slots with any combination of the four weapon types as you played. Hoping the "classic" gameplay mode isn't different from the one I grew up with.
The 3DS d-pad isn't good for this kind of game. You're better off downloading the Wii Virtual Console version.
I can't wait for this. M2 kinda screwed the pooch with the old Virtual Console version (containing the button hold bug of all early Genesis vc titles) so it'll be nice to have a properly emulated version. In 3d. On the go.
I'd love to see Super Heroes on Wii U vc as well!
@LeonBelmontX you're very much correct, that was the wrong paragraph, must have been a glitch in the matrix or something. Please re-read as it's now how it should be Sorry about that!
@moomootown - Oh wow, thanks for the correction. The weapon-drop thing was my least favorite part of this otherwise fantastic game. Now it might very be perfect in my eyes!
I want this. Badly.
This game was a big part of my childhood. Guess it's time to finally retire my old Genesis cartridge and beat-up old six-button controller.
The bad guy in the first pic looks suspiciously like M. Bison.
I have this for the Wii VC. I'll pass but it's a good game.
This is my favorite "schmup"(?) of all time. My friends and I poured hours into this when we were kids. I remember buying it on a whim for like $20 and it being one of the best random buys ever.
I have it on my Japanese 3DS LL. The 3D effects in some areas are insane! Very impressive considering that it's basically being emulated on the 3DS. Great game, too.
No widescreen huh? Gonna have to think about it. Bit of a bummer.
I'll wait and see if the game has the same level select as, say, 3D Classics Sonic The Hedgehog or 3D Classics Streets Of Rage. Mostly because I'm still stuck at the maze stage in the GBA remaquel (sequel/remake), Gunstar Future Heroes (or Gunstar Super Heroes for you yanks out there), and I wouldn't want to get through it more than the two times required by GFH.
@CanisWolfred Yeah, once you've picked up a weapon (doesn't matter which) and the second slot is active, you can then cycle between any you like. Instant access!
@AlexSora89 You can select any of the starting four anyway, then use the save state option as a kind of 'free' continue if you so choose to do so?
@Gen0neD On an XL, it fills enough of the screen for you to quickly forget, but it is kind of a shame but definitely not a deal breaker imo.
I'm thinking this is going to be pretty awesome in its 3D Classics form.
Considering Australians are STILL waiting for OutRun 3D* I'll just pretend this isn't happening.
*Unless it actually did drop. I gave up checking to be honest.
Am I the only one that played or even knows Gunstar Super Heroes exists?
It's a pretty nice underrated GBA gem.
I thought that was M. Bison for a minute.
Amazing, amazing game. Dynamite Heady next!
@-Godot I liked it more than the original, heh. It was technically a quasi-remake, though.
Day 1 purchase for me. I spent way too much time playing co-op with friends when we were kids. Now I just need someone who will deign to use my OG 3DS to co-op with me.
@WaveBoy Overrated, are you kidding me? The sheer variety of boss fights was incredible for the Sega, not to mention the amount of love that went into how you fight - weapon mixing, throwing enemies/bombs in any direction (I love throwing bombs back at enemies), melee attacks, interesting level designs (normal, mine cars, board game). I'm not saying it has to be everyone's favourite, but hardly overrated. One of my all-time favourites.
This is already out in Japan. So is Streets Of Rage 2. Anyone know when Sonic 2 3D will be released in Japan?
@-Godot No you are not, I still have the complete package and it is still one of my favorite GBA games and technicly up there with Metroid fusion and Aria of sorrow.
I am mostly looking forward to Streets of Rage 2 and Sonic 2 but this games is on my list as well.
I'm glad they've included an easy mode (for lack of a better term), as I was only ever able to beat one level of the original game.
I just hope that all of these games are coming to the US / EU anytime soon.
I still think that Segas 3D classics are among the best the 3DS has to offer
I wish they would do some physical releases of the Sega 3D classics(perhaps in 2 or 3 volumes). I love them all and hope we see more.
I spent so many late late nights playing this game with a friend. So many memories tied up with this game. Definitely picking it up.
Glad they added an easy mode, but I would have loved for them to also add a one-hit kill hard mode.
@WaveBoy : At times, I'm as much of a Treasure hater as anyone can be. And I'd love to see Hard Corps (Japanese version, please!) make it onto the 3D Classics list. But Gunstar Heroes is a fun game with really great level design, no matter how you slice it.
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