Gunstar Super Heroes is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic side-scrolling shooter Gunstar Heroes, which appeared on the Sega Genesis in 1993. It's been more than a decade since the original game, but Gunstar Super Heroes sticks closely to its 16-bit roots, bringing the same frenetic shooting and platforming that made the original a classic. That isn't to say this is just a Game Boy Advance port or a remake of the first game. This is a brand-new game, and although it does have a classic feel, it also manages to pull off some great special effects on Nintendo's handheld. Gunstar Super Heroes is a game that no side-scrolling action fan should be without.
Gunstar Super Heroes sticks to its roots to deliver some of the most intense and fun gameplay you'll find on the GBA.
The story in Gunstar Super Heroes is about what you'd expect for an action game. In the first Gunstar game, two heroes fought against an evil being known as Golden Silver, also known as the God of Ruin. The heroes eventually defeated Golden Silver on the moon, and the resulting explosion created four new moons. Super Heroes picks up several years later as the evil Empire is poised to resurrect the God of Ruin using a mysterious artifact. Enter the Gunstar Super Heroes, an elite team of soldiers charged with saving the world. The story unfolds through brief sequences between each stage that show some static character portraits exchanging dialogue about one thing or another. These scenes are really just a little buffer between missions, and you usually don't learn much from them. There are a couple of small twists toward the end of the game, but overall the story is ancillary here. That's fine though, because this isn't the kind of game you play if you're looking for rich plotlines and well-developed characters.
You can play the game as either Red or Blue. The differences between the two characters are subtle; some of the animations are slightly different, and each character has a distinct look. The main difference is the weapons. Each character carries three weapons. Two of the weapons are the same for both characters, but the primary weapon is unique to each character. Red's primary weapon is force, which is a machine gun type of rapid-fire weapon that shoots plasma energy. Blue's primary weapon is lightning, which fires a concentrated beam of electricity. There are also different story sequences depending on which character you use, but for the most part Red and Blue are the same.
You'll always have your three weapons at your disposal, and you can switch weapons with a tap of the left shoulder button. In addition to force and lightning, you get a fire weapon that shoots a ball of fire that explodes. It's powerful, but it doesn't have the range of the other guns. The chaser weapon shoots a thin laser that homes in on the nearest target. Each weapon has a supercharge gauge, which is filled as you defeat enemies. Once filled, the gauge starts flashing, and you can double-tap the right shoulder button to unleash a super attack. The super attacks are unique to each weapon, and they inflict heavy damage and have a wider target area than regular attacks. For example, the super attack with the chaser weapon launches a large green stream of energy that flies around the screen hitting anything and everything that moves. In addition to the long-range attacks, you also have a sword attack for close-range encounters, as well as a slide, an uppercut, and a jump kick. You can also jump off walls, hang from overhead, and hitch a ride on all kinds of vehicles.
You can play through the game as the feisty Red or the kicked-back Blue.