Gunstar Heroes was surprisingly left out of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis collection but fortunately for Gunstar Heroes fans, it's found its way onto the XBLA, Virtual Consoleand PSN.
Gunstar Heroes doesn't feature a complete narrative much like many retro games. But for an advanced game like this, it's a big letdown. Basically bad guys have turned Gunstar 9's (a planet) worker droids into evil killer robots and kidnapped Gunstar Green. Not extremely original, but it does the job. Gunstar Red and Blue (depending if you play the game co-operatively) then set out to collect four gems and get their brother back.
Like Contra, this is a run-and-gun side-scroller. You have two firing options, the ability to fire while moving with limited directions and 8-way directional shooting with movement limitations. I prefer the eight-way directional shooting as it gives you a small challenge while at the same time making it easier to fire at enemies ahead without taking damage. There are four main weapons in the game. You'll be able to pick-up two at a time and switch between them. When cycling through the weapons on the third cycle you'll be able to use a mixed version of both of your current weapons. There are sixteen variations in total. Enemies will come at you from all sides.
From robot workers to giant cyber-bug like creatures, you'll be kept busy dishing out the pain with the infinite ammo you're given. You're health is a number bar that will quickly diminish if ignored. The key is to learn and adapt to enemies attack patterns and counter with your own moves. Another ability that you have from the start is melee attacks. You can grab and chuck enemies across the screen and believe me it's a helpful little addition. The bosses in this game are huge, unique, obstacles that have their own fighting style and pattern. On the harder difficulties these bosses can take some punishment, but on easy you shouldn't have a problem.
The presentation in the game is amazing...for a Sega Genesis game. The sprites, backgrounds, and almost 3D effects make this game a must-play for anyone who loves unique sidescrollers. Sound is interesting and very tech sounding, though the main characters grunts can get annoying when you're caught up in enemy fire.
The game is quite short with not any more than four levels. It remains fun throughout despite this. Each level is unique and inventive. Playing with a friend online or next to you is always a way to revive an experience.
Overall, this is a great game to try out. It's a cheap, fun hour or two of fun by yourself, and double that fun with a friend. If you played Gunstar Heroes way back when, you'll definitely need to pick this up.