Welcome, Hoof Troop! With hundreds and thousands of games released since the dawn of the industry, there’s clearly no time to play them all. But there are some that you should play at least once. These are the Essentials.
Allow me a few minutes of indulgence to talk about one of my favourite games, ever made. You may or may not be surprised to know that for me personally, the 16-bit era was the golden age of gaming. It was a time of fantastic hardware and amazing games, as the console wars between Nintendo and SEGA really heated up.
While I wear my allegiance to Nintendo on my sleeve, I was also a big fan of the SEGA Mega Drive, or Genesis to my chums over the pond. While it was the Sonic games that brought me to SEGA’s 16-bit mega system, it was games like Gunstar Heroes that made it such a memorable console to own. Treasure’s magnum opus was unlike anything ever seen before, with the fastest and most frantic gameplay, combined with a killer soundtrack and some of the most mind-bending graphics ever seen on the Mega Drive.
Seriously, I don’t know how Treasure pushed the system so hard, but they did – The results being one of the most impressive games around. But it also innovated in other ways, such as allowing you to choose what order you tackled the first four levels in. Of course, the correct first level is Black’s Silly Dice Maze, a level that starts off quite normally until you enter a room, only to be greeted with an actual board game, complete with a dice you have to roll by throwing it.
Gunstar Heroes – The Most Versatile Shooter Around?
As you can see, although this is a shooter at heart, you’re also able to pull off some impressive melee moves, including kicks, punches, throws, diving attacks and slides, making for a very versatile combat system. It’s amazing how well the combination of short-range melee attacks and long range weaponry flows so well in such a fast-paced game.
Then there’s the weapon system, in which you can not only equip two different weapons at once from a selection of four, but you can also combine those weapons to make anything from a rapid-fire stream of bullets to an almost God-like homing laser weapon that almost breaks the game. It’s quite tempting to always use the homing laser combo, but even the other weapons have their merits in particular scenarios.
Bosses are also a big part of Gunstar Heroes, and there are some really memorable battles with a cast of insane enemies, from the weird face called Melon Bread to a boss that attacks, and then rewinds his strikes. They’re challenging but ultimately incredibly fun to battle, which makes you excited to keep playing and see what strange beast is thrown your way next.
This game is so incredibly playable that I still regularly replay this game, over 20 years after its initial release. It’s just been ported over to the Nintendo 3DS in a special 3D Classics edition, with 3D visuals and added modes, and it’s just as playable on the smaller screen. Quite frankly, this game is amazing, and that’s why Gunstar Heroes takes its place as one of the Essentials.
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