Written: 5.26.07 Acquired: 2.23.06 Status: Cart only Price: $5
In 1991, GunForce made its rounds in the arcade. A two player run 'n gun romp, it was clearly inspired by the Contra brand. Was it as good? No. Still, it was a hit in its own right, and enjoyed itself a little cult following. Later that year the Super Nintendo burst onto the scene, and it was only a matter of time before the Irem blaster made its way to everyone's favorite 16-bit system
[HEY! -Genesis Nation]
Ooooh, sexy, this. In a rare case, I prefer the US box art over the Japanese one. Those suits are horrible! Maybe the US one is typical futuristic robot warrior-y, but damnit if it doesn't look better. I recall being very tempted by the box at local rental shops back in late '92. But I never got around to renting it as my brother always (usually) won out (see Memories of Renting for more)
The SNES port has a very bad rep. I guess Contra III spoiled everybody, eh? Despite the severe lashing this game has received, I wanted to see for myself. Long story short... is GunForce... THAT bad?
In my humble opinion... on the Contra-ry
[Bloody Hell -Ed.]
That was the short story... now here's the long version...
The game greets you with this basic yet spiffy cross title thingy
A nice sparkle mark if I ever saw one
There's none finer
Battle Fire Engulfed Terror *breathes*Island!
Before we hit the game proper let's observe the all-important weaponry, of which there are five:
This is ye standard shot. Actually pretty damn effective. You can also upgrade this to auto fire (that's two guns there, for those keeping count at home)
The Laser is powerful and quick. It gets my hearty approval
What the Flame Thrower lacks in range it makes up for in sheer wicked mayhem!
Oddly named the Bazooka (eh?) this blue bolt unleashes Hell on Earth. It can take out a CROWD of baddies in one fell swoop
Here we go...
Yip-pi-kay-yay Mot -- [I don't think so -Ed.]
THE ENEMY FRONT BASE (Level 1)
OK, the Japanese depiction is technically more accurate of your protagonist... I'll give it that much
Enemies can touch you and vice versa. The only way to die is by gunshot or falling into a pit
Enemy vehicles flash when hit...... ah, gaming's most simple & timeless pleasure eh?
See how long you can have a tire rolling around while fending off the bad guys. Game within a game! Ace
Look! He's shooting at his own friends, the git
"With friends like this, who needs enemies?"
Ahhhh, indeed. Now I finally understand that damn quote
Video games, I salute you *salutes*
Gaming's 2nd classic and timeless simple pleasure: Loud and satisfying explosions
Hitch a ride! There are several machines to utilize throughout
Oh how I *LOVE* the smell of na -- [Don't even go there -Ed.]
The animation for ascending ladders can be summed up in two words: Nature calls
Now this is what I'm talkin' bout! You can either shoot from the helm there, or grab hold of the stationary gun and let 'er rip!
I much prefer the complementary laser gun!
Abandon ship, abandon ship!
The very 1st boss. All the bosses are mechanical except for the last one
They're all quite easy and very fun to dismantle. Take out the turrets first if you please, or simply go for the quick kill
The 'Brass Knucks' is the main component of this fella 'ere
Of course, I much prefer taking my sweet time before I go for the heart
Hmmmmm, kinda looks like a wrecked plane that dove deep underground, eh?
["Uh, it wasn't me, Mr. McD!" -Launchpad McQuack]
After each mission the bloke sends a message over... er, over
He has to be talking to someone, right? I tracked down the person on the other side of the line... let's listen in...
THE ENEMY SUPPLY DEPOT (Level 2)
Love how this stage starts off. Dispose of those bums and break open the "security" door....
....... And make your way through this death factory
Crates usually contain guns, ammo or points. They make a sweet sound when shot at
Man, if I ran this factory the interior designer would be the first to get the axe. Sheesh! At least put up some glow in the dark stars or something!
[I was thinking it could use a Scarface poster myself -Ed.]
Hey, he asked for a light, OK?
Jump over the pit and onto the lift
Seriously, this crate-destroying business is oddly fascinating, not to mention rewarding
It's like shooting fish in a barrel!
Make short work of the sniper up top, and proceed to boss numero two
The eyeball controls this mad operation. Decimate all that stands in your way!!
But don't get overzealous! The bombs are NASTY! [You know, back in 'NAM... -Ed.]
Ah-ha! The eye's been exposed! "Eye" see you! The aye's have it! [One more bad eye pun and you will be seeing double... -Ed.]
This really is.... pretty damn sweet stuff. Scorch 'em all to Hell....
Two down, three to go!
Let's listen in now...
THE ENEMY COMMUNICATION TOWER (Level 3)
You can simply let this fly by unharmed.... s'yeah, right!
The Bazooka is absolutely devastating! One shot can go through many baddies!
It's by far the most powerful gun. It decimates the opposition in no time flat
You have the choice of taking the machine lift there, or the good ole fashioned hand over hand method. From here you can shoot as well
This one comes equipped with its own laser gun, ace
You gotta love these 8 versus 1 moments. At the very top Boss no. 3 awaits...
... And those bad guys you evaded just moments ago? They don't quit so easily!
The dishes send forth some sort of red projectile, but they're easy to avoid. Just duck, kill the drones and chip away at the towers
Once again let's go to the walkie talkie...
THE ENEMY FORTRESS (Level 4)
Nice way to kick start a stage eh?
Shoot in any of the eight directions you wish as you climb the ship's ladder
.... Luckily you've the quickest finger in the West... or something
As the song goes...
The Kids Aren't Right
There's gotta be a cloning device in the basement or something! Sheesh...
You can never tire of using the Flame Thrower, nope
Boss number four. A bunch of turrets to destroy, sometimes baddies storm out of the two pods there as well
The second form is even more deadly
.... But not nearly as deadly as you! Skip the Flame Thrower, you need range on your shot
One more time, here's listen in...
THE ENEMY UNDERGROUND BASE (Level 5)
Must have taken IREM forever to come up with all these stage names eh?
Looks like the very first stage but at sunset
Another shameless shot of a mighty nice explosion
It's a shame you can't drive it. Better have a quick trigger finger here!
Oddly, the bullets sail safely over your head. Hmmm
This guy, however, doesn't have it as fortunate as you do...
Getting closer and closer... board the elevator now
Can't we just all get along?
Very tough, this. Best strategy is simply to high-tail it like a fugitive!
The very last machine you can hop in is definitely the coolest
Death on two legs, apparently
It has no match, none!
Just beyond that door there... lies the final confrontation......
Now there's a face only a mother could love! Break the base open before the aliens fall!
Work toward shattering the glass on that slimy son of a gun!
Tired of hiding, our man decides to play the role of RAMBO -- "DIE YOU SCUM DIE!!!"
The aliens keep regenerating... forget 'em and concentrate on dino-breath!
A-HA! The deed has been done: Mommy and its eggs are no more! Hurrah!
Players who managed to beat this super difficult game were rewarded with a promising message...
OK, the game's really easy and a sequel never came out for the SNES. However, in the arcades in '94 it did.... feast your eyes on this:
If you find yourself thinking Metal Slug it's because some of the programmers reportedly went on to have a hand in making the aforementioned fan favorite. One friend of mine calls GunForce II"The best game you never played"
Mighty praise indeed. What a shame that a Super Nintendo port never materialize
TWO PLAYER (FATAL) ATTRACTION
Recall that on vehicles you have the choice of firing your gun off on the side or manning the vehicle's central gun. Why is this so? This picture explains it all. But wait, the one player game suffers from some slowdown, and although I have yet to play it with a buddy I hear it's a nightmare with two
ARCADE VS. SNES
Take a look:
Ouch, the Flame Thrower lost quite a lot in translation =/
SNES port is "happier" and less gritty. Rats
Overall though, it's a faithful port. The levels are pretty much the same as are the bosses
EASY DOES IT (IN)
In addition to the common complaints about the slowdown, another one is that the game is simply too damn easy. Something you might have missed is the difficulty option. The game has no 'proper' option screen. But if you press select at the title screen you'll have the choice of easy, medium or hard. Hard is pretty tough indeed
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
As stated in the beginning SNES players have not been kind to GunForce... neither were magazine publications, really
EGM: 4, 5, 6
GameFan: 42, 44, 45, 49
Super Play: 59%
Subpar graphics and music, a bit bland and generic (especially coming off the heels of the senses shattering Contra III), slowdown infested and lack of challenge. That's a lot of flaws. Some are very legit while others, I feel, are overblown. The slowdown wasn't as bad as I feared coming in. In fact, after a while I hardly noticed it, as it doesn't affect gameplay much. Instead, I was enjoying a mindless blast fest
And, much to my surprise (a pleasant one, mind), the game grew on me in the sort of way you can't really explain. It doesn't play great or even good, but it plays well enough to be strangely enjoyable. While the music is quite dire, the sound packs a punch (explosions, crates, etc.). Yes, one can finish it in just 20 minutes, 15 if you manage to hang onto the stronger weapons throughout, but that's also what I like about it. It's a quick, mindless, enjoyable run 'n gun. The bosses don't have Konami shaking in their boots, but they're extremely fun to take out. The last boss is pretty memorable, even if it doesn't come close to sniffing the jock of some of Contra's classic, epic end-of-level guardians
To borrow a cliche GunForce is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Don't get me wrong, it's not a great game by any means, but for what it does it does a lot better than I thought it would. And bloody hell, I just enjoy playing it to kill 15 minutes (not to mention about 200 baddies along the way as well)
I guess I'm in the minority, then. GunForce is like a Snickers bar. You won't want to eat it every day, and it's definitely no substitute for a fine steak dinner (that being Contra III), but it's the sort of thing that makes you smile in a guilty-pleasure manner