The recent re-release of Gunstar Heroes on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network isn't the first port of the game we've seen over the past 16 years. But could it be one of the best?
Part of Sega's Vintage Collection, Gunstar Heroes is a port of Treasure's classic 1993 shooter, which is still revered as one of the finest games to ever grace the Genesis/Mega Drive.
So, as far as ports go, how does it hold up in 2009?
If It Ain't Broke: As far as side-scrolling shooters go, Gunstar Heroes is almost perfect. So Sega were smart to leave the game well enough alone, the only changes being some new display options (the adjustment ones welcome, the graphics filter less so) and, in a welcome move, the addition of online co-op.
Analogue-Friendly: Some retro games – like Bionic Commando: Rearmed – were woeful on 360 thanks to its terrible d-pad. Gunstar Heroes, you'll be happy to know, doesn't suffer from this, as control via the analogue stick is smooth and responsive.
Premature Evacuation: It's a little unfair to knock a fault with the original game when reviewing a port, but I'm going to vent anyways: Gunstar Heroes' biggest problem is that it's too damn short. The customisable weaponry and co-op adds a bit of replay value to the game, but with only a few levels on offer, you'll be done just as you were getting into the swing of things.
Gunstar Heroes was my favourite game on the Mega Drive. And, thanks to this slick and (mostly) faithful port, it's now one of my favourite downloadable games this generation. The best part: it's cheap, cheaper even than the recent Virtual Console port that didn't include as many features. Treasure fans – or anyone looking to kill a few hours with some mindless, vintage carnage – should definitely look into it.
Gunstar Heroes was developed by Treasure, and originally released in 1993. Reviewed version published by Sega, and released on June 10 (XBLA) and June 11 (PSN). Retails for 400 MS Points on Xbox 360, $5 on PlayStation Store. Played Xbox 360 version to completion, tested online co-op.
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