Released simultaneously with McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure, this was the first game the fledgling company undertook to develop after their departure from Konami in 1992.
On February 23rd, 2006, Gunstar Heroes was re-released in Japan as part of the Gunstar Heroes: Treasure Box Collection for the PlayStation 2.
In 2009, it was released on June 10th for Xbox Live Arcade and June 11th for PlayStation Network.
In 2015, a 3D Classics version was released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop as 3D Gunstar Heroes.
Gunstar Heroes is a side-scrolling run-and-gun shooter. The player has four weapons to choose from, and they can be combined in various pairs to create a total of 14 unique weapons. In addition to the weapons, the player can engage enemies in close quarters combat. It is possible to grab and toss enemies, perform sliding and jumping attacks and a long-range skid.
Unlike most games in the genre, the player has a life total calculated in numbers. Death to a player requires multiple hits but just one death will issue the option to continue from the start of the level or to end the game. Players have unlimited continues.
The main highlight of the game are its boss encounters, which often feature large enemies made up of multiple sprites allowing for fluid movement.
The storyline differed between both the original Japanese version and the Western version of the game.
The Gunstar Dynasty has been the protector of the planet Gunstar 9 (G-9) for generations. In his youth, Professor White Gunstar defeated Golden Silver, a destructive android that traveled millions of miles to suck G-9 dry of all its resources. Professor White was able to extract the four famous Mystical Gems, the robot's power source, and imprisoned it on one of G-9's moons.
Years later, a new menace rises. Colonel Red, a vicious dictator, found out that the Gunstars knew the location of the Mystical Gems. One day, Colonel Red kidnapped the Gunstar twins' older brother, Green, and used a mind control device to make Green obey his orders.
With Green's help, Colonel Red amassed all four Mystical Gems, has turned Gunstar 9's peaceful worker droids into deadly menaces, and is now preparing to leave for Gunstar 9's moon to reactivate Golden Silver.
(This is considered the proper storyline, which sets up the sequel, Gunstar Super Heroes)
The world was nearing its end. An evil organization created the ultimate weapon, Golden Silver, the God of Ruin, to destroy countless cities on Earth from the moon. The Gunstars (Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow) seeing the Earth turn into a living hell before them and fueled by righteous anger, confronted the powerful Golden Silver. After a lengthy and arduous battle, they defeated the evil God of Ruin. To make sure he is never resurrected, they sealed his body on the moon and took the four gems that powered him, and sealed them away in separate area on Earth. The exhausted Gunstars, having been pushed to their limits, prayed for a new civilization to arrive, and they began their long cryogenic sleep. All that is, except for one...
Time passed, and a new civilization was built on Earth. A legend was spread across the land; "Revive the God that sleeps on the moon, and he will guide the most righteous people to Utopia."
General Grey, the commander of the dictatorship calling themselves the "Empire", believed in this legend and attempted to carry it out. So, he sent people to the moon in a battleship called the "Ark", in order to mine for the gems that would call forth the God. It was then that the leader of the underground mining excursion, Dr. Brown, uncovered some capsules, in which the Gunstars were having their stasis.
Once they awakened, they learned of the Empire's plan to revive Golden Silver. Their companion, Green, whom they had remembered being with them until the very end, had lost his previous memories and was now assisting the Empire in the revival of the God of Ruin.
"We won't let such a tragedy happen again! We'll get back the gems and put a stop to the revival of Golden Silver!"
Once Dr. Brown heard the Gunstars' words, he decided to betray the Empire and promised to help the Gunstars in their battle.
- Gunstars Red and Blue: The playable characters. Twin brothers who protect the planet.
- Gunstar Yellow: Navigator and sister of the Gunstars, she gives them short briefings on the levels.
- Dr. Brown: He deactivated Golden Silver in the past, but is too old to do so again, Instead, he becomes Red and Blue's mentor.
- Gunstar Green: The mind-controlled/amnesiac older brother of the twins who now works for the Empire. He controls a giant shapeshifting mech, the Seven Force.
- General Grey: The leader of the Empire. He desires to awaken Golden Silver and reshape the planet to his desires.
- Smash Daisaku: Grey's red-suited subordinate. He appears throughout the game to oppose Red and Blue.
- Pink, Orange, and Black: High-ranking Empire commanders who appear as stage bosses.
Gunstar Heroes featured four basic weapon types: Force, a powerful, full-auto shot with a high rate of fire; Lightning, a straight shot that can go through enemies and physical obstructions; Chaser, which homes in on enemies; and Flame, a flamethrower-style shot that is very effective at close range. By combining two weapons, a new weapon can be formed. For example, combing Lightning and Chaser gives a homing lightning beam attack.
Gunstar Heroes was awarded Best Action Game of 1993 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Versions and releasesEdit
Shortly after its original release, Gunstar Heroes made its way to Sega's handheld machine, the Game Gear. The port was handled not by Treasure, but by the development house M2. As the handheld's power could not be matched to that of the Sega Mega Drive, the game was significantly scaled down, stripping its multi-player mode, Black's Dice Maze, and several graphic effects. It does, however, add in a few new features such as a jetpack level and the chance to drive one of the walker robots from later in the original 16-bit version.
The game received a PC port on December 17th, 2004 as a part of the Sega Honpo series, titled Sega Game Honpo Gunstar Heroes (セガゲーム本舗 ガンスターヒーローズ).
On February 23, 2006, Sega released a Treasure-oriented entry in their Sega AGES 2500 series for PlayStation 2. Named Treasure Box (トレジャーボックス Toreja Bokkusu), it contained Gunstar Heroes prominently (to the extent of it being on the front cover), along with Dynamite Headdy and Alien Soldier. Treasure Box also contains the various versions of these titles (such as Game Gear ports, versions from different countries and a hidden prototype of the Japanese version, which is essentially the full completed game but lacking tweaks), as well as digital manuals and other bonus materials.
Gunstar Heroes was released December 11th, 2006 in North America on the Wii Virtual Console and December 15th, 2006 in Europe. A version for Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network was released on June 10th, and June 11th in 2009, respectively, with online co-op, leaderboards, and 'improved graphics' via smoothing. However both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions have reported that the online co-op feature is a step backwards from the original, due to the inability to rejoin your partner upon death. Instead, players must wait for their partner to also die in order for the level to start over, whereas in the original you could rejoin immediately in return for half of your partner's HP.
Gunstar Heroes debuted on the iOS platform on November 22, 2010.
3D Classics version of the game was released in 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
On October 6th, 2005, Treasure and Sega released Gunstar Super Heroes, a sequel for the Game Boy Advance. The game makes a few changes to the gameplay, such as having a fixed weapon selection and the addition of 'super' attacks controlled by the trigger.
- Main Programmer: Yaiman
- Enemies Programmer: 1993/Nami
- Cool Character Creator: Han
- Background Art: Iuchi 6
- Music by: Norio Hanzawa
- Sound Design: Satoshi Murata
- Special thanks to: Hiromi Noriko, Nazo² Suzuki, K. Shindoh
- Supervisor: M. Maegawa
- Presented by Sega
- Produced by Treasure 1993