Gun Frontier (known as Gun & Frontier in some rereleases) is an arcade Vertical Scrolling Shooter released by Taito in 1990, which would later receive a Sega Saturn port in 1997, as well as ports for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch as part of Hamster's Arcade Archives series in 2022.
The year is A.D. 2120 and mankind has reached far beyond the reaches of the Milky Way galaxy, colonizing several planets. One such planet is the Earth-like planet of Gloria, which happened to harness a large amount of gold. This discovery would later be pivotal in the immigration towards Gloria, but due to the expensive cost of reaching Gloria, life on the planet was similar to that of The Wild West. Gold trading aided the people of Gloria in advancing technology and knowledge to the point that inventors and engineers lived among the immigrants. However, the Glorians weren't the only ones tempted by the abundance of gold on the planet, as a dangerous gang of alien outlaws and space pirates called the Wild Lizards had invaded the planet, destroying many towns, capturing survivors, and enslaving the inhabitants for the sole purpose of gold extraction. Now, it's up to two pilots to take control of two revolver-shaped fighter planes and drive the Wild Lizards off the planet while saving the inhabitants in the process.
There was a 1991 "sequel", Metal Black, which was created by the same developers (it's referred to as Project Gun Frontier 2 in its credits) but has little connection to this game in any way. Despite the name, this is unrelated to the Leijiverse anime of the same name.
This game provides examples of:
- Anti-Frustration Features: Normally, Arcade Archives releases only have 15 Hz and 30 Hz autofire options. However, the ACA release of this game specifically has a 6.6 Hz autofire as well designed to avoid increasing the game rank.
- The Cameo: One of the protagonists from Don Doko Don (another Taito video game) can randomly appear in a movie projection screen halfway through Stage 4.
- Dramatic Thunder: Occurs during the final boss battle.
- Dynamic Difficulty: Gun Frontier employs an anti-autofire rank system where the difficulty will max out by the second stage if the player is sustaining too fast of a fire rate. However, the difficulty is manageable even at max rank.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: Die against the final boss, and you will be told "Gloria has been closed into the evil dark world..."
- Kaizo Trap: Just when you think you've defeated the Stage 5 boss, it'll try one last attack by releasing bombs that explode into bullets.
- Nintendo Hard: Gun Frontier is rather difficult for a variety of reasons. Your extremely slow movement speed (compared to other shoot 'em ups) is a significant part of the difficulty, but there's also the bombs which are slow to deploy, and the relatively tricky enemies that tend to fly low and shoot when they're near you.
- Point of No Continues: You can't continue against the final boss.
- Showdown at High Noon: The final boss battle has you engaging in a Quick Draw shoot-out against a gold-silver revolver-shaped fighter plane (presumably being piloted by the leader of the Wild Lizards). You can only shoot it when its shields are down when it stops to fire.
- Smart Bomb: You have to scavenge 20 pieces of gold to get a full bomb, but you can use bombs that are only partially refilled for a lesser effect. There's a lengthy delay before the bomb actually cancels enemy attacks, similar to Raiden, and you can aim the bomb (the bombs will travel in the opposite way you're moving). Dying doesn't cause you to lose bombs, so you can hoard a large stock even across multiple deaths, but if you're low on bombs and die your bomb meter's only refilled to 1/2 a bomb or so. The bomb system is a direct inspiration for Raizing's later games such as Battle Garegga (1996).
- Space Western: The main theme of Gun Frontier. The game justifies the technological gap between sci-fi weapons and wild west setting by explaining that its expensive cost on terraforming compromised the development of the civilian infrastructure.
- Time-Limit Boss: Take too long to defeat the final boss, it'll automatically kill you with its rotating shields.
- Traintop Battle: The Stage 5 boss consists of a massive train that must be destroyed piece by piece.