Seriously, look at this opening title screen; doesn’t it just scream FUCKING AWESOME and not in any way does it say ‘took me ten minutes to work out the glow tool function’ – HOW CAN YOU NOT WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME?
Oh. Oh yeah. So yeah, it looks pretty shoddy all in all BUT THAT IS NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL because this game is Gunstar Heroes only on the Playstation and Gunstar Heroes did amazingly well on the Mega Drive/Genesis/stick-to-one-name-Sega-plzkthnxbai.
OK, so apparently Gunstar Heroes didn’t do THAT well over here in the UK because people are clearly idiots and shouldn’t be allowed to drive or earn money or use their brains because Gunstar Heroes is the shit and you’re an idiot for thinking otherwise so how is it possible that a game that is basically the same thing in a slightly shinier coating isn’t as amazing?
Because it’s ROCK HARD and you only get one life.
Anyway, here’s the scoop on the story BECAUSE IT HAS ONE. Apparently there are some big dickheads called the Pumpkin Heads, who have the most ridiculous gang name ever and cannot therefore be taken seriously, are after some treasure called the Valkiry, which as a teacher pains me because that’s no way to spell Valkyrie and I shall be informing your parents. In order to stop these bastards, you have to set off as one of two gloriously named treasure hunters who do in fact have the best names ever in gaming history: Ruka Hetfield and Axel Sonics.
RUKA. FUCKING. HETFIELD. AXEL. FUCKING. SONICS.
SERIOUSLY THESE TWO ARE CALLED RUKA HETFIELD AND AXEL SONICS AND THOSE ARE THE COOLEST NAMES EVER I WANT THEM TO BE MY CHILDREN’S NAMES AND BY SHIT IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN EVEN IF I HAVE TO LEGALLY CHANGE THE NAMES OF TWO OTHER CHILDREN TO DO IT holy crap, that sounded awfully creepy, I’m not actually going to do that but just to be safe, never give me a pen and a deed poll document because I actually might do it.
But look at them. Those are their names and they just… fit. I mean, how can any other names fit them other than RUKA HETFIELD and AXEL SONICS.
I mean, Jane and Dave don’t quite have the same ring to them, do they? You will NEVER come up with better names than these two characters from a game you’ve never heard of, probably will never play and probably don’t even agree with even though you’re CLEARLY WRONG.
So yeah. Treasure hunters. They want the treasure and so do the Pumpkin Spice Lattes so they’re going to have to have a bit of a fight about it. With guns. Apparently treasure hunters have guns now. And not just any guns: FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF GUNS. There’s the standard PEW-PEW-PEW bullet gun, the THREE-WAY bullet (oh myyyyy – sorry, dirty joke, had to; done now), the CHEAP-ASS HOMING bullet and the BURNING FLAMEY FLAME bullet. Both characters (AXEL. RUKA. AMAZING) have different types of bullets for each one so Axel’s homing one is way better than Ruka’s but Ruka’s flamethrower is more powerful than Axel’s one (but short range as fuck – I mean, you have to standing on the boss’s feet to be able to hit with it). The other two bullets are awful and you should feel ashamed of yourself for thinking I forgot about those two when they suck as weapons and I hope you’re sorry. You better be. Anyway, bullets fly all over the screen, you try not to die and eventually, after 6 levels of crazy bullet-laden action, you find the Valkiry and… I dunno. I never got that far.
Did I mention this game is ROCK HARD? I never completed the final level and it has taken me FIFTEEN YEARS TO GET TO THE LAST FUCKING LEVEL. I mean getting past the stupid mine cart/train level was hard enough without having to start from the beginning twenty times because it’s HARDER THAN ROCK IN A ROCKY PLACE WITH ROCKS AROUND IT. COVERED IN ROCKS. AND THEN COVERED IN ROCK SYRUP AND A SPRINKLING OF ROCK DUST FOR MEASURE. OH MY GOD. THIS LEVEL MAKES ME WANT TO CRY.
And why am I still playing the fucking game? Because I want to beat it and tell everyone that I beat a game where I played as RUKA HETFIELD AND AXEL SONICS BECAUSE WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO?
Jeez, have I not made it clear enough to you guys yet?
Anyway, on a more serious note, aside from being hard as nails and rocks and glue and diamonds in the middle of the Antarctic, there is a quirky, almost adorable charm to this game for all its flaws and ragingly hard difficulty spikes. The problem it had was coming into the era of 3D gaming as a 2D game which was a HUGE sin on gaming at the time and 1995 was a time for blocky looking polygons that would make people go WOW I AM THIS CHARACTER AND I CAN WALK AROUND A ROOM IN MORE THAN TWO DIRECTIONS rather than do what they always used to do back in the early 90s when Sonic and Mario were the only characters ever to have more than one game that everybody raved about (fuck you, Vectorman, you weren’t cool) and basically Rapid Reload was 5 years too late. Technically, it was 2 years too late because Gunstar Heroes already got there and Treasure was the king of that kind of quirky, quality game that no one ever bought because something is clearly wrong with everyone who plays games *cough cough call of duty cough cough*
Oh, but that fade out when you pick one of the bossest-named characters ever? How long did you guys want that to be because I feel asleep half way through it. That’s one way to elongate a game’s experience: slow everything else down to a crawl. Bastards. I wanna play as RUKA and AXEL and you’re making me wait another twenty seconds with a fade out? CRUEL MISTRESSES.
AXEL. FUCKING. SONICS.
RUKA. FUCKING. HETFIELD.