Gunman Clive is a game that knows exactly what it’s trying to be. The trailer for the game says as much: It’s a generic action platformer, but even though it’s remeniscent of Mega Man, it’s art style and level design make it just unique enough to recommend. Especially for only $2.
When you start a new game you can choose to play as either Gunman Clive or as Ms. Johnson. Depending on which of the two you select the other is kidnapped by generic cowboy/bandit facsimiles. And then you shoot them. You shoot a lot of them. Truth be told, when I started the game, I thought that all I’d be doing was shooting the same bandit over and over again until I rescued Ms. Johnson. Then, on the third level, I realized Horberg’s probably knew how to design levels fairly well and was hooked until I finished the game. As the game progresses it becomes less and less about shooting bandits and more about the platforming. This is something the game does well. It starts off simple and layers more and more elements on right up to the end of the game, but these new elements are never confusing or too difficult to deal with. Never does a tutorial window pop up and tell you “press a to” or “hold y to.” The game assumes you know how to handle yourself because it’s drawing from such a long lineage of games that do exactly the same things.
The controls are similar to those old games as well. It’s literally just B to jump and Y to shoot. The rest comes down to timing and direct control. While maybe not having as much finesse as, say, Meat Boy, Clive definitely feels better in the platforming department than a game like Little Big Planet. It’s just a more precise affair. I never felt frustrated with the control I had over the character and whenever I died (stage 13 initially gave me a bunch of trouble) I knew it was my own fault. There are some differences between playing as Clive and Ms. Johnson that I should mention. Ms. Johnson controls very much like Peach in Super Mario Bros 2. If you hold down the jump button mid-air she will float down instead of just dropping. She retains the Mega Man-esque gun play that Clive has.
The art style is brown. Very brown. I know that this is a complaint that a lot of people have with modern games, but here it works to Gunman Clive’s favor. The game has an almost hand-drawn art style and the brown only adds to that sketchbook feel. Sure, there is color used sparingly throughout -Ms. Johnson is colored Pink, electric traps are purple, some enemies are yellow, etc- but over all the game looks nice because of it’s lack of major details.
The game is nothing new, but in the short time I spent with it I had a lot of fun. It really did remind me of playing an old Mega Man (or a new one like 9 or 10) game, albeit a lot less difficult. If you’ve just dropped a bunch of money into your e-shop wallet and bought something larger and you’re left with a little over $2 then I completely recommend spending that money on Gunman Clive. Or don’t. It’s your two bucks. What do I care?
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