Surprises for someone who follows the gaming industry are few and far between. Games are slavishly hounded from their announcement all the way through to their release, with each new revelation being picked apart for as many details as possible so by the time you witness the opening screen, you’re a bit too knowledgeable about what’s away to happen. However, you can’t follow everything and this is where Gunman Clive caught me off guard. A small, Mega Man-esque phone game that went completely under my radar, Gunman Clive’s arrival on 3DS was one of the best surprises in recent memory.
The first thing that you’ll notice is the fantastic visuals that, whilst simple, are clean and very easy on the eye with an awesome hand drawn effect, that is reminiscent of Valkyria Chronicles . Most enemies are shown in nice, chunky blue colours that make dispatching them an easy affair. Sometimes gunshots from each party may slightly merge into the backgrounds, but it’s never a huge problem and may cost you a slice of life or two across the entire game. The only other slight niggle is, even though there are a good amount of backdrops, you never really feels like you’re moving to a new area due to the monochromatic colour scheme. Even space doesn’t seem too dissimilar to the Western backdrop seen at the start of the game.
The gameplay is easily the star of the show here, with brilliantly realised controls, Gunman Clive never dies without it feeling like it was your fault. Picking your way through the early levels is an easy enough affair on normal difficulty, but the Mega Man factor is ramped up as you progress through the 20 levels, with the player having to navigate small platforms whilst also dodging environmental hazards and copious amount of bullets. However, it never gets quite as tough as “real” Mega Man, though this allows the game to be a short, fantastically formed romp through brilliantly designed levels without the traditional frustration that comes with playing a game of this style. This is perfectly in line with the price tag, as at £1.99, the short 45 minutes to a hour length is just perfect, making it a perfect evening treat.
Sounding as good as it looks, Gunman Clive has a surprisingly intricate little soundtrack. Only around 4 tracks feature, but each is a great little piece that never outstays it’s welcome through the short stages, moving back to another track after only a few of the short levels. Bosses have a suitably ominous mood setting piece to accompany the but, as with each track in game, it continues running after each death creating a weird feeling of each fight washing into one another, diminishing the meaning of each fresh encounter.
Gunman Clive is a fantastic 3DS title. The imprecise controls of the previous ios version are a thing of the past, as a game of this nature needs precision movement and it really improves the experience. The bosses may be rather easy to dispatch and slightly lacking in anything new in a design sense, but they’re a welcome break and do wonders for the pacing, leaving the game feeling tough but ultimately very beatable. For a £1.99 game, the 2 playable characters (and a hidden one), 3 difficulties and the time attack nature of each level give the title a great sense of value. Even then, if you only play the hour long campaign on normal mode, you’ll leave with great memories.
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