Monday, August 31, 2015

Gunman Clive HD Collection (Wii U eShop) Review

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs will be posted tomorrow because tonight I have a second review planned to round out this month. First, however, let's return to the world of Hörberg Productions' Gunman Clive with his makeover in HD for the Wii U eShop. Here's my review of Gunman Clive HD Collection.

Two great games given a second time to shine in a higher definition spotlight

Bertil Hörberg and his small studio of Hörberg Productions might not be a household name by any stretch of the imagination, but don't write him off just because of that. Bertil has proven himself to be a highly capable developer with two Nintendo 3DS eShop releases under his belt, Gunman Clive and Gunman Clive 2. Not only were the games well designed, but the entry prices were so low that the games sold above expectations, particularly the original. Now, the games are making the jump from the small screen to big screen with Gunman Clive HD Collection for the Wii U eShop. For a handful of dollars, you get some of the finest run 'n gun games in recent memory, made better with high-definition assets and graphics.

I said reach for the sky, pardner. Not shoot for the sky.
For those who don't own a system of the Nintendo 3DS family or haven't played either Gunman Clive game, the games have a similar type of gameplay to Mega Man titles in their run 'n gun glory. You travel from location to location through linear levels where exploration takes a backseat to the action. Each level is devised of several rooms taking anywhere between 40-80 seconds to complete.

Clive has the ability to pick up special guns which enhance his range, enable homing shots that target enemies, and unleash large bullets that leave big explosions in their wake. Having these special guns equipped helps out a lot during the levels, but the caveat is that with one hit you will lose the bonus.

Both games are brief rides from beginning to end, with Gunman Clive 2 being about double the length of the original. It's still less than an hour to complete the game. However, alternate characters and the pure joy of playing both games increases the amount of time you'll spend with the games exponentially. There are multiple difficulties for players to ease into the game-- with the Easy difficulty giving you a larger health bar to work with, as well as falling into a bottomless pit or a bed of spikes not automatically meaning you fail the level. Although levels lack checkpoints, them being so quick in length means you won't be cursing the folks at Hörberg Productions for dying over and over, which is quite possible to do as both Gunman Clive games can be quite challenging.

Alternate playable characters make for a different experience
when running through a familiar duo of games.
It also helps that both games are excellent for speed-running not only because they're so short, but also because they have such a satisfying flow and brilliant pacing to them. The variety of level hazards, enemies, and interesting level mechanics means you're always experiencing something new, whether it's riding on the back of a raging triceratops as you duck and jump over hazards or going all Donkey Kong Country with a fast-paced mine cart ride. There are odes to other games, such as what I assume inspired part of the gameplay of both games, Mega Man-- especially with Gravity Man level-style walls of gravity and disappearing and reappearing blocks.

There are some major differences between the original Gunman Clive and its sequel. One of these is that the original Gunman Clive uses the same range of tan, orange, and beige colors in its art style for the entire game, while Gunman Clive 2 opens up the amount of colors considerably, making for more variation for the eyes. Additionally, Gunman Clive 2 features several levels that take Clive out of his running and gunning preferences and puts him in control of a ship and a horse in behind-the-back 3D segments. While these remain as fun as they were in the 3DS version of Gunman Clive 2, the lack of any type of 3D means you can't rely on depth perception to avoid obstacles and enemies. It's a small issue, but an issue nonetheless.

The lack of stereoscopic 3D can make these sections a bit tricky.
Not impossible, but tricky.
Gunman Clive HD Collection runs at a steady frame-rate, and the moving sketchbook-like art style looks absolutely fantastic in high-definition. The colors pop on an HD screen, especially Gunman Clive 2's extravagant range of colors when compared to the original. The music of both games is remarkably well done, offering catchy and hum-able melodies that never get grating to the ears. Off-TV play is available for both games, and selecting which of the two games to play is as simple as moving the d-pad from one game to the other on the main menu. You can easily back out from one game's title menu to the game selection menu.

Don't get hit by this T-Rex, Clive, or you'll end up dino-sore!
With an absolute certainty I recommend the Gunman Clive HD Collection, especially if you've never played either game before. The low cost of entry should seal the deal for most potential buyers. If you've played both games to death already, then there is not much to make them worth returning to, even for the $4 price tag and the upgraded visuals. Still, Gunman Clive 1 and 2 are excellent games that have a new opportunity to capture a new audience in Wii U owners.

[SPC Says: B+]

Review copy provided by Hörberg Productions.

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