Monday, March 9, 2009


Gunforce was released in America in 1992 by the company Irem. The games full name is "Gunforce- Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island." So it should come as no surprise that I picked this game up more for the ridiculous title than for Irem's pedigry, which is solid considering they are the creators of R-Type. It's a good thing that I used that reasoning, because the game's ridiculousness extends well beyond its title.

The game is simple enough to pick up and play. Your character moves quickily, shoots in eight directions, and is generally controlled exactly how you want him to be. The controls are simple, needing only to move, jump and shoot. Oddly enough though, you have two shoot buttons, and four jump buttons. There are no differences between them. You can play for a while shooting enemies with the B button, then switch it up and shoot them with the A button for awhile. You can spend some time in the game jumping enemies by pressing Y and then switch to R just for kicks.

The actually issue that I had with the controlls is my own. I have it so ingrained in my mind that Y should shoot and B should jump in games like these, that I routinely died because I pressed the wrong button. And I almost always have to readjust after lulls in the combat.

But that's not really a complaint as the game is fairly easy, especially for a game that feels so much like it's trying to be Contra. Most of the enemies in the game are little more than lemmings whose sole goal in this life is to die by your hnads, or machine gun fire, or flames, or proton bazooka.

Occasionally, these lemmings will fire a shot at you, which can easily be dodge by ducking. While ducked, the bullet will fly through your head, but deal no damage. That should be the first sign that the hit detection in this game is a little wonkey. Sometimes, it'll look like you're going to be hit, but you're not, while at other times, you'll be hit even though you were out of the way. I've died to a bullet grazing the back of the truck I was driving, which usually just deals damage to the vehicle, but that time, I was the one that died.

Speaking of vehicles, they are one of the best and worst things about the game. They are powerful and can take many more hits than your character can, and they have infinite ammo for whatever weapon is equipped, which is generally the laser canon. Of course, the drawback is actually using the things. Getting in and out of the various vehicles is a chore, as you are able to latch onto more places than just the mounted turret. So often you end up dying just trying to get into the thing the first few times you play. Also, there's no driver, so it looks kind of silly as you chug along, blasting away with the turret and running over the lemmings. But no vehicle comes close to the chopper for sheer goofiness, as it takes up half the screen and looks exactly the same in the air as it did on the ground. Also, when you get it in the first level, it will come to a point where it will simply no longer move forward, and if you back up, you end up trapped, which forces you to bail a screen or two from what looks like the landing pad.

The bosses in the game are also disappointingly easy, and the first one feels so similiar to the first boss in Contra that it felt like I already knew how to beat it. This, of course, may have been exacerbated by the fact that it only had two distinct attacks, and that the game gave me one of the most powerful weapons in the game right before hand: the bazooka, which allowed me to destroy the boss in seconds.

The music is a bit of a mystery to me as most of the time it is drowned out by the gunfire and other sound effects in the game. There is no music at the title screen, so the only thing I've really heard enough of to comment on is the little jingle as you enter your initials, which isn't bad, but sure can get annoying if you let it sit for awhile. The sound effects in the game are good and the weapons really sound as if they have a good kick to them. Plus, the scream your character makes when he dies is hillarious, and I often found myself chuckling as he slumped to the ground, which may say something about me.

All in all, the games a bit of a mixed bag. It has some severe issues, but it is enjoyable and I found myself having a good time despite myself. It's not a game that one can sit down and play for hours as the flaws would eventually begin to bog down the experiance. It's easy for the type of game it is, and there is no options menu to change either difficulty or controls, but it's not broken. Shooter fans will definitely find something to enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the legendary Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island. While it's undoubtedly the worst of the four games reviewed up to this point, it does have its own charm, something which I can't say for most of the mediocre titles polluting the Super Nintendo scene. When did you get this game? Did you first download it for the Virtual Console, or did you buy the original cartridge back in the day?

    The mixed up controllers got me, too. Delete and End... er, I mean Y and B should never be reversed. The game does have some very weird hit detection; I have to wonder if Irem even bothered playtesting this game, with things like the soldier having a bulletproof head. The first boss is extremely easy as well, and I even downgraded to the weaker original weapon by accident (I think). I mean, I know it's the first boss, but shouldn't it be capable of shooting more than one slow-moving bullet per ten seconds? Not even the first boss of a game should play out like a storyline battle.

    Despite all its flaws, though, I can't help but like this game. It's somehow charming, campy, and endearing thanks to its various blatant flaws in game design. I doubt I'd have ever played it were it not for this review. Thanks, Retro.