A Cup of Coffee or This Game?
The Gunman Clive series debuted on the 3DS back in 2012. The big draw behind it was that it was a game for just $1.99, which is just pocket change to most of us. Three years later, Gunman Clive 2 was released at the same price, meaning that players could get the entire series for about the same price as a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Now those two games have been upscaled to HD and fit onto one package in the form of Gunman Clive HD Collection on the Nintendo Switch. Are these games a steal or are players getting what they pay for?
I’ll tackle this review in two parts: one for the first game and the other for the second. Gunman Clive is a shooter that takes a lot of inspiration from games like Contra. You make your way through levels with your only actions being running, jumping, and shooting. You’ll face evil cowboys, tackle some bosses, and travel to a few different environments. There isn’t much original about the game, which is a bit of a shame.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Gunman Clive is solid. It replicates the classic feeling of playing an NES arcade shooter with some modern touches to give it some style. The best way to beat the game is by learning the pattern of the level and the bosses and counteracting, which is similar to much older games. Instead of being horribly punishing, though, the game is separated into bite-sized levels that encourage speed running. With this in mind, each death felt satisfying, I was just one attempt closer from beating the stage.
The most notable part of Gunman Clive is its visuals. The game looks like something that was sketched on old paper. While that does work for the Western vibe the game is going for, I do have some problems with it. The big one is that because the colors never change, the levels are difficult to distinguish. Even when you get out of the wild west and are dodging asteroids on the moon, the colors never change, which makes it hard to enjoy. Certain enemies and hazards are outlined in different colors, which is a nice touch, but that only makes them feel more artificially placed as a result. It’s especially weird considering that most of the game’s platforms are made of real-world objects like the roof of a saloon are some extra scaffolding. I never played Gunman Clive on the 3DS, but I would be interested to check it out, as I think the art style would work better with the 3D effect rather than just an HD look.
On a side note, the game also has this awkward-looking health bar at the top left of the screen. It was fairly ugly and an ineffective way of judging how many more hits I could take before dying. A numbered quantity would’ve been a bit more effective in my opinion.
Strangely, the soundtrack takes more notes from an arcade than the wild west, leading to a score that gets reused and isn’t all that catchy. Many of the tunes felt out of place in Gunman Clive, but they were mostly harmless in the end.
Lastly, we’ll touch on content. Gunman Clive has 20 levels and three characters to choose from in the HD Collection. They each play a bit differently, so it’s nice that there’s some variation, but it’s clear that the game was designed for Clive and only Clive. There’s also a special mode unlocked when you beat the game that I’ll leave for a nice surprise. Overall, it’s a good amount of content for just $1.99, but there are some problems in the visual department that prevent it from being anything astounding.
Gunman Clive 2
Gunman Clive 2 is a similar experience to Gunman Clive, but there are a lot of improvements made that make it a much better game. The core gameplay remains unchanged, but everything around it got reworked.
First off, the colors are now changed. Each area is denoted with different colors. The pencil-drawn style remains, but more detailed backgrounds are now in the picture. Each area was much more memorable, though this is also helped by Gunman Clive 2 embracing some crazier set pieces.
The game also features different styles of play. Instead of just playing as Clive, there are levels where you’ll be zipping on a minecart and there’s one where you’re even riding a pterodactyl. It’s all crazy stuff, but it meshes together really well. I was constantly interested as to what I was going to see next. Even the soundtrack got properly updated, featuring tunes that never wowed me, but were catchy enough that they enhanced the action on-screen.
Each level in the game was constructed around a central mechanic or hazard that would progressively grow more intense as the level went on. While this made progression much more natural, there were some hazards that gave me more trouble than they should’ve. Messing with the button inputs as well as perspective is fine for a few moments, but basing entire levels around that gimmick probably wasn’t the best idea.
Gunman Clive 2 also sports five extra levels and a few new bosses. The bosses in both games never truly impressed me (as they were little more than just a series of predictable patterns), the ones in this game proved a bit more of a challenge. The final boss was also an insane yet incredibly fun time.
Should I Get Fast Food Instead?
For just four dollars, you can get your hands on the Gunman Clive HD Collection that includes both games and a few new bells and whistles for good measure. With the improvements made by the game’s sequel and a style that invokes classic arcades, this is an easy purchase. It’s not an astounding game, but the price tag makes it too much of a deal to pass up.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Gunman Clive HD Collection was provided by the publisher.