EDIT: Sometimes we go away, ruminate on our reviews and come to the conclusion that we might have been too harsh, or that we might have gotten it wrong. This is one of those occasions. Whilst we stand by our criticisms of GunWorld, there’s more to like about this game than we gave it credit for.
For a game about a planet where guns grow on trees, “GunWorld” is a pretty apt name. It’s wankbait for NRA members, and enticing enough to give ageing action heroes, like Stallone and Schwarzennegger, full-on, rock solid erections. But, testosterone-fuelled, gun-toting fuckery aside, it falls flat and left us soggy and flaccid in the underwear department.
As you can imagine, GunWorld‘s story is an absolute tour de force, telling of the planet’s struggle to fight off an alien invasion, and the attempts to return the Gun Mother plant to its native land. Of course, we’re talking bollocks here, and the story is a pile of arse, but these old NES-style side-scrollers don’t need a decent narrative so long as the action’s fun, right?
Things look quite promising, initially at least, and the 8-bit sprites and level designs were pretty enough to grab our attention. The introduction section, that you’ll have to play every time you start the game up, does a good job of allowing you to get to grips with the controls and intricacies of growing your own gun-bearing plants. Those plants can bear guns of different varieties and are the key to taking down the foe. We’ve never encountered anything like this system before and are actually quite fond of it. Let’s see Chiquita or Del Monte match that! Unfortunately, whilst the controls themselves are quite intuitive, they have a self-inflicted tendency to be totally wooden and unresponsive, as if to emulate the old classics of the side-scrolling shooter genre. But this isn’t 1987, and we aren’t playing Gun World on an NES.
To its credit, GunWorld successfully captures the spirit of side-scrollers from the late 80s’ and early 90s’, but the stiffness of its control scheme, as well as its character movement, makes for an aggravating experience. For example: you may find yourself faced with a platform slightly higher than you are, with an enemy pacing across it. To get to it, you need to jump and fire your oversized gun at said enemy, but you’ll need to time every jump and every shot to perfection if you want to land a hit. In other situations you may have to jump from one platform to another, but if you don’t time it perfectly you aren’t making it across. And that’s before we start on the situations where you’ll land on a platform only to be pushed off, into the abyss below, by a bullet or an enemy that has grazed you ever so slightly. We get what the game is going for, it wants that old-school difficulty, but whats the point when your movement is so gimped and slow that jumping from platform to platform could be a game ending experience? Having said that, there is a market out there for this kind of game, with its self-imposed limitations and all. Fans of either Contra or Megaman will likely lap Gunworld up because of its difficulty.
Fortunately, you can become frustrated in whichever order you like, by picking and choosing which level you want to play – like the old Megaman games. Each level has its own theme and you’ll visit the desert, forest, city and others along the way. Some levels are better designed than others though, pulling off precision platforming without feeling overly unfair or burdened by the stiff movement. Some of the stages feel too linear, and un-challenging, and you might not encounter an enemy for long stretches at a time, leaving you trudging from one side of the screen to the other. At least you’ll have a kick ass walljump ability though – and it doesn’t suck. Wall jumping is one of the game’s best aspects and feels intuitive, responsive and a lot of fun. You can even use it to get to high platforms, or to give enemies the slip.
But here’s the thing about GunWorld, the great side-scrollers and platformers of old were designed with such skill that the deficiencies of their release platforms didn’t matter. GunWorld‘s artificial difficulty wouldn’t annoy us so much if its levels were carefully designed to accommodate its stiffness and its sluggish movement. On a level by level basis, there is a definite disparity in complexity and quality of all the stages.
What promised to be a meathead-filled, action-packed extravaganza ends up feeling slightly disappointing. It’s a bit like a bargain bin clone of Megaman, but why bother playing it when you can just have the real thing? In a way, GunWorld succeeds because it feels like a bit of a relic, which is kinda what it is trying to be, so in that regard if you enjoyed the challenge of old side-scrollers, you’re likely enjoy this too. But, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to try to tease ourselves back up to a semi with a copy of The Wily Wars.