The Empire is Attacking the Natives! Sav-- Oh Wait, Wrong Game.
Gunstar Heroes is my all time favorite action games for my favorite retro console suited for stylized action games of its caliber, the Sega Genesis, from my all time favorite company, Treasure.
We have not seen a game quite like Gunstar Heroes since Gunstar Super Heroes for GBA, and it's unfortunate that we don't see many games today, especially in faux retro scene, taking a cue from Gunstar Heroes, making the game's sense of explosive excitement somewhat of a piece of lost nostalgia for me. Something of a bygone era.
This game here is great tribute to that bygone era. The games looks, sounds, and even feels like a great Sega Genesis action game.
The music is pure hardcore awesomesauce, it sounds almost like NON composed it. From serious tone the selection screen invokes, as you try to pick out which level to tackle first, to the "Down to Business" theme of level one that makes you feel like a bad ass, to the scaling melody of the second stage as you ascend a silo, or the fast paced theme as you run across the train in level 3, the music just feels right and has that "ummph" of dynamic energy to it that makes me come back to the game.
As for the art, I can not believe it's not Han. I always dug Han designs because they felt reminiscent of Gainax designs.
The gamplay is tried and true sidescroller fare. Though to pinpoint something peculiar, the controls feel more akin to Megaman than Gunstar, considering that in Gunstar, you could jump up and do a kick or bellyflop of some sort as an alternative means of taking out enemies. In this game, you just jump and shoot, but you can shoot in four directions. The weapon system in Gunstar was awesome because you could combine 2 weapon powerups to form unique weapons based on those two specific elements. My favorite was the laser sword because it was freaking powerful despite its limited range and it could melt bullets. However, in this game, the weapon powerups are more akin to Contra's style in that you can only pick up one weapon at a time. But hey, at least the laser gun in this game is far far far more better than the laser in Contra. Though personally, my favorite gun in this game is the flamethrower, if not the rocket launcher(I am a sucker for high damage guns). However, the game does call for different guns at times, seeing that some guns do better in some areas than others. Like the flamethrower is powerful as hell, but it can't shoot through walls like the laser can, and you can't move while you are using it like you can with all other guns. So, there is balance, and I have always found balance to be an important part in designing games. The health is just like Gunstar, because in that game, and in this game, you don't die in one hit, you can take multiple hits, but your health is listed as a percentage. This aspect is what I think gives Gunstar an advantage over Contra, because I always find one hit kill stuff incredibly frustrating!(Contra still kicks ass because it has great level design to make up for its one hit kill mechanics, it also does not restart you at the begining of the level if you lose a life, which is a plus.)
Then there's some great twists in this game, like the vertical space shooter genre switch at the start of level 4 and...
The 8 bit sub levels, one of which pays direct homage to level 1 of Contra with its Island landscape, exploding bridges, suicidal enemies and gun turrets, and another which pays direct homage to Megaman's Cutman level. The graphics and music make a total shift, utilizing NES colors and Sounds.
You earned yourself a 5 star. Now the thing is I don't normally give out these babies except for entries that I feel break the mold, that truly stand out, and of course in addition to something that I absolutely love. In general a 5 score entry is something you wouldn't believe, considering the quality, was on Newgrounds for free. In the case of games it is score reserved for games that excel with exceptional coding, graphics and level design. Any flaws, if there are any, are miniscule because this Flash game IS the kind of game I like to play on the Sega Genesis, for free on Newgrounds.
If you have any behind the scenes footage, like stuff about how you made the game, composed the music, and coded it, I would like to see that, because I would like to make games like this one, but with a twist.
I hope you make more 16 bit style games in the future.
Good luck on your next entry.