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Video Game / Gunstar Heroes

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"Professor! Green's been here.... He's got a Gem!"
"Uh oh.... That means.... Our only hope is...." *POINTS FINGER TO THE SKY*

A cooperative Run-and-Gun game released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis by Treasure in 1993. Sometime in the future, somewhere not to far from where you live, Gunstars Red and Blue are twins from a family of protectors of the planet Gunstar 9 (G-9), attempting to stop a dictator named Colonel Red from collecting the four famous Mystical Gems in order to reactivate a planet-sucking alien robot known as Golden Silver in a misguided plot to reshape the world.

At least, that's how the original North American release describes it.

That being, you (partner optional, but highly recommended) take control of either one of Red and Blue and traverse several levels of increasing chaos and explosions. What really adds to the run-and-gun nature of it, though, is how the two playable characters differ in action, as well as the clever weapons system. Technically, Red is Free Shot - meaning you can run and gun at the same time with the primary drawback being that it's a bit harder to aim in a specific direction (since... you move when you fire); counter to this, Blue is Fixed Shot, so he can't move and fire but is capable of firing in all 8 directions. This doesn't seem like much of a difference at first, but when you add that certain weapon combos work better for certain types - it allows for a wide variance in playstyles.


Overall the game is best known for its impressive graphic effects, frantic action, great music, and epic boss fights.

A single-player "sequel", Gunstar Super Heroes, was released in 2005 for the GBA, and sets up a new team of heroes (who have the same names as their predecessors) to fight against the Empire Army once again to stop Golden Silver from reviving a second time. It also appears to follow the Japanese Mega Drive storyline more closely, with the names mostly reverted.

The original game was first made available post-Genesis on the PS2 Sega Ages series (with less slowdown) a fine example of No Export for You. However, it is now available for download on Virtual Console, Xbox Live, PSN, iOS and Steam, as well as the 3D Classics line of remasterings on Nintendo 3DS.


Tropes used in this series:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Pink in Super Heroes.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: In Super Heroes, there's a one space on Black's boardgame where you need to get to the bottom of a shaft before you get crushed to death by a tombstone.
    • And the Save File Deletion threat in the Japanese version makes it so much more exciting... Doesn't it?
  • A.I. Breaker: In Super Heroes, Green often gets stuck in a short Teleport Spam pattern.
    • In the original, you could pin Green in the corner easily with the Laser Blade. He would counter by throwing very fast ninja stars...which your blade deflects effortlessly. Then you'd mow him down with the blade, he would recover and try to throw stars again. All you have to do is keep the blade on him.
    • Green gets another big one during the first time you face him; if he should turn into the Gun Mode, there's a safe zone directly under the core of the gun that you can slide to and just sit there while it fires fruitlessly; then once it's done, aim up and fire - rinse and repeat.
  • All There in the Manual: The plot, although even this depends on whether you have the Japanese version, the International release, or Super Heroes. Fortunately, the 3D Classics release of the original game goes over both the Japanese story and separate International story.
    • The only source of Red's gender in Super Heroes, as far as Japanese media goes, is in magazine previews and interviews.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Red's gender was never given in the Japanese version of Super Heroes, not helped with the somewhat boyish voice the character was given which could swing in either direction, and further muddied by masculine speech patterns which are somewhat unusual but not entirely unheard of for female characters. Western versions of the game averts this by explicitly referring Red as a girl.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: 1993's Gunstar Heroes and Time Gal had their box art changed to remove the exagerrated anime style, albeit while retaining the spirit of their games.
  • Bad Boss: At one point, Smash Daisaku uses his own troops as weapons by tossing out of a speeding train car at you.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: This actually happens twice in the game. Once at the halfway point of the game (against the so-called "Final Great Soldier" whose only attack is "Love Love Dancing"), and once at the end.
  • Battlecry: Only for melee attacks.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: The fastest, yet not the safest nor the easiest, way to defeat Orange in the first game is by throwing him. Since he's an expert melee fighter, he will wrestle you good if you fail.
  • Bifauxnen: Red in the sequel, who manages to pull this off despite having permanent Blush Stickers.
  • Big Bad: The Destructor, Golden Silver, in the first game. The Megalith in Super Heroes. Golden Silver also appears in Guardian Heroes.
  • Boss Rush: With a twist; you play against all your old enemies again, but in completely new battles that in most cases don't even resemble the original. The bosses are actually watching your progress on a big board until you reach certain points where they'll move to intercept you.
  • Boss Subtitles: Every boss fight begins with a warning, followed by the boss' name and attack names.
  • Brick Joke: One of the mini-bosses in Black's dice maze is Timeron. Upon defeating it, it flies into the sky. Later, during the space shooter stage, Timeron returns, having shot up into the cosmos. Of course, the joke falls flat if you didn't land on Timeron's space in the dice maze.
  • Bullet Hell: Expect to be sent to it on Hard and Expert modes in the original.
    • Also, Timeron 2nd Match. How long can you last?
  • Captain Ersatz: Pink and her minions are more than slightly reminiscent of the Grandis Gang from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. Even the jewel you get for beating them looks like the Blue Water.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: All the villains in Super Heroes except Green are reduced to this if you pick Easy mode.
  • Char Clone: Green in Super Heroes. Green is the son of the Empire's first governor, and in order to get revenge he works for his father's usurper.
  • Chasing Your Tail: Black's re-fight has an attack that sweeps the whole playing field.
  • Crosshair Aware: The tiger form of the Seven Force has an attack which invokes this trope.
  • Darker and Edgier: In Gunstar Super Heroes, the plot and dialogue become this as you move up the difficulty levels.
  • Deletion as Punishment: One Advancing Wall of Doom area in the original Japanese version of Super Heroes has the game warn you that if you fail it, your save data will be erased and tells you to take precautions due to this. It's all a lie, though. This warning isn't present in the localized versions.
  • Demoted to Extra: Smash Daisaku was a formidable boss who is fought twice in Gunstar Heroes, but in Gunstar Super Heroes Smash only has one easy optional battle in the dice maze.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Blue's Hard Mode ending in Super Heroes.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: A certain number of the weapon combos are like this, particularly, any of the combinations that are more effective at close range. Some combos are better (but not exclusively so) in the hands of specific characters, like the controlled fireball, a weapon that is arguably better suited for Fixed Shot.
  • Difficulty Spike: Stage five is arguably the hardest level in the original game because A) you have to fight through a horde of Mooks that will whittle your health down B) you have to fight Smash Daisaku, who would be hard enough if you weren't in a weakened state and C) there are no check points in the stage, which means a game over places you right back at the beginning of it all. Mind you it's also considered the Best Level Ever since you can completely cut loose against a horde of moving targets.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun:
    • Optional for the original game - only by selecting Blue/Fixed Shot
    • Gunstar Super Heroes consolidates both fixed firing and free firing into one mode; whichever fire button you press determines your movement freedom. It also offers a third firing mode that lets you fix your aim direction but still move.
  • The Dragon: Smash Daisaku to Colonel Red (General Gray in Japan and Super Heroes). Green fills this role as the Emperor in the final stage.
  • Dub Name Change: There are quite a few changes between the initial English release and the subsequent Japanese version that came out following day. For one thing, the planet Gunstar 9 was originally the Earth, but also some side characters had different names, such as Professor White Gunstar being Doctor Brown (no relation to Back to the Future), and Colonel Red being General Gray. The characters who were named in-game remained the same, however, and the earth is still mentioned during the intro - the exception being Golden Silver, who has the title of "Destructor" rather than the "God of Ruin" like in the Japanese version. Gunstar Super Heroes uses the Japanese terminology for the most part, but for whatever reason Smash Daisaku changed to "Colonel Smash" in the instruction booklet, the gems are now called Treasure Gems, and both of Golden Silver's nicknames are used. Pink's cohorts Kain (skinny guy) and Kotaro (the round one) are also unnamed outside the Japanese manual until Super Heroes.
    • The storyline differences can also qualify as Dub-Induced Plot Hole, which is ironic as the Japanese version was more convoluted; in it, the four defeated Golden Silver in an apocalyptic battle, each hid one of his power sources in separate locations, and put themselves in stasis to prevent Golden Silver's awakening only to find out that the new civilization has twisted the legend so that removing the "spell" would be a good thing. This explains why the professor is working with worker 'droids in the demo opening - he's actually an ex-empire leader of the mining crew who found the Gunstars and believes their story, not an older Gunstar who fought Golden Silver and imprisoned it on one of G-9's moons. Another example is that Yellow's relation to the Gunstar family is unknown if going by the English storyline alone. Is she related to them, a girlfriend, or just an assistant to Professor White? We never know. In the Japanese manual and Super Heroes, she's described as Green's sister and one of the Gunstars. Too bad the intro before the original title screen is still nonsensical, and gives the impression that Golden Silver was successfully awakened before the game started.
  • Easter Egg: Timeron in stage 6 is an Optional Boss you can dispose of in about 2 seconds and move along, but there's a reason the game puts a timer on the screen and taunts, "How long can you last?" Letting him live sends you on a seemingly endless journey through Bullet Hell. But, if by some miracle of endurance you manage to hold out for 100 minutes... this happens. Very telling that the programmer's signature laughs at you.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Super Heroes does this in an inventive way, as the story is affected not just by what character you play as, but the difficulty as well. On Easy, all villains are robbed of their depth to become one liner-spouting Saturday morning cartoon villains, while on Hard they become more tragic, while more of the plot is revealed and more plot twists are involved.
  • Evolving Attack: At the start of the original, you chose your gun type, from Force (Rapid Fire, medium damage), Fire (close range, high damage), Lightning (thin rounds that pierce enemies - and can pierce through certain walls), and Chaser (homing attack, low damage). You can later pick up powerups in the form of the other guns, and create a hybrid weapon from two weapon types, or two of the same. Take for example:
    • Combining Fire with Lightning creates what is effectively a Lightsaber, the shortest ranged weapon in the game but has what may be the best damage output as well as the ability to block certain shots.
    • Fusing Fire with Force creates rapid-fire explosive rounds that go off either on contact or when you let go of the trigger.
    • Fire with Chaser gives you a remote-controlled Fireball that can continually swarm an enemy for damage as well as block shots. It's one most effective with Fixed Shot, as you won't accidentally throw yourself into an enemy while controlling the fireball.
    • Not unlike Chaser and Lightning - putting Chaser and Chaser together gives a rapid-fire homing stream of projectiles. The difference is that the projectiles can branch and you can effectively home in on multiple mooks. The damage output suffers for it though.
    • Another double-up is Force and Force, which gives the game's equivalent to More Dakka: lots of bullets, increased speed, and increased bullet spread.
  • Exploding Barrels: Littered over stage five.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Green. In the first game he is Brainwashed (has Easy Amnesia in the Japanese release), and in the second faking an alliance to avenge his father's murder.
    • If you play through Super Heroes as Blue on hard mode Yellow eventually joins Green and the two of them take over the Empire.
  • Fartillery: Orange. The attack is even listed as "Break Wind."
  • Fastball Special: you can take the enemies and throw them at others. In 2-play mode, players can throw each other in this way. You can even break the other players fall when they're thrown by an enemy by grabbing and throwing them yourself before they hit the ground.
  • Fission Mailed: The File Crash stage in the second game threatens to erase your game if you fail in the Japanese Super Heroes.
    • Of course, turns out it is an empty threat. And said threat has been removed in North American and European releases for no reason.
  • Fisticuffs Boss: Curry and Rice in Black's Dice Maze
  • Flash of Pain: Typically how the characters react to being hit.
  • Gainax Ending: The epilogue of Gunstar Super Heroes. Subverted if you play the game in Normal mode, then in Hard least for Red. In Blue's hard mode it's unclear what happens after the Gunstars pull their Heroic Sacrifices. It looks like they're saved by the Gems, but this is not explicit.
  • Gameplay Roulette: The sequel throws a new genre at you in portions of practically every level.
  • Generation Xerox: The characters in Gunstar Super Heroes all share names and likenesses with the ones from the original. Fully lampshaded at one point.
  • Gender Flip: In Gunstar Super Heroes, Red is a girl; for some reason, the only mention of Red's gender from any Japanese source comes from a Nintendo Dream preview.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In Super Heroes the Megalith, the self-proclaimed secret fifth gem, represents an entity known as Outside Space.
  • Grind Boots: Towards the end of Pink's stage, the game has you sliding down the side of a pyramid whilst shooting mooks.
  • Hard Mode Perks: The story of Gunstar Super Heroes gets more fleshed out the higher the difficulty level you're on.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Green, in both games. In Super Heroes, he gets better in one of the endings.
    • In one storyline in Super Heroes, Yellow does it instead. In another storyline, everybody does it, though it appears the Treasure Gems save them at the last second.
  • High-Altitude Battle: You fight Orange for the first time on a helicopter that's constantly tilting as you fight. You can throw him out of it for extra damage, but expect him to jump back up with an impressive elbow drop. (If he lands on the wings rather than falling off, it deals 400 damage, but beware of his Mercy Invincibility...)
  • High-Speed Battle: Green's stage takes place entirely while riding specially modified mining carts.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: some enemies throw bombs that explode on impact. If you time it well, you can catch the bomb and throw it back.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: In stage five, there is one mook that hides under a barrel and runs away. The odd thing is that not only is this the only enemy you can't kill, but also the only barrel you can't blow up.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Melee attacks consistently deal more damage than most weapon combinations.
  • Irony: "I NEVER DIE!" Spoken by Smash Daisaku as their Famous Last Words.
  • Kill 'Em All: Averted in Blue's hard ending of Super Heroes. All four Gunstars ram their ships into Golden Silver, but are seemingly saved by the gems.
  • Last Minute Hookup: In Blue's Hard mode ending in the sequel, after they decide to ram their ship to the God of Ruin, Blue tells Red that he loves her.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo / Shout-Out: Pink, Kain and Kotaro are awfully similar to Grandis Granva, Samson and Hanson, Smash Daisaku looks a lot like Bison with Dhalsim's stretchiness, and one of the Phantoms dressed in red looks like a Super-Deformed Silencer.
  • Lift of Doom: The battle with Black's hovercraft.
  • Made of Explodium: Almost everything in the game has a fiery explosion when you kill it. This includes a plant, a giant caterpillar and a giant gel.
  • Market-Based Title: The sequel is named Gunstar Future Heroes in Europe.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Mystical Gems.
  • Mirror Boss: Green, though not so much in Super Heroes, because instead, you get to fight Seven Force on foot!
    - Warning -
    The Final Battle - Green
    Action - The Gunstar's Action
  • More Dakka: The whole point of the game, really. Any weapon (or combo of weapons) will produce a healthy amount of dakka, especially if there's two players involved.
  • Multiple Endings: In Super Heroes, and not as a result of branching paths, but as a result of the difficulty level chosen. On Easy mode, the story is simple ('kill the bad guys!'); on Normal mode, the story gets a bit more serious, and there are hints of darker forces; and Hard mode has a dark story. To add, the story also changes depending on the character you chose. Red's path is generally more idealistic while Blue's is cynical.
  • Nintendo Hard: Sort of. The game uses that very special Treasure formula of making both you and the enemies very powerful with a lot of different moves, and all you really need to do is understand the controls and bosses. Once you do that, every death will be your fault. It's hard but fair.
    • The sequel however makes some cheap death spots in Moon 3 (Orange's stage) in hard, because you start with VERY LOW health, the mooks can obliterate you in seconds and by the moment you aim on them you will lose most of your health.
    • In fact, most of the stages are beyond insane in difficulty on hard mode.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Gunstar Red and Colonel Red in the English translation, but played straight in Gunstar Super Heroes with General Gray.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Minion Soldier, one of the Dice Game bosses in Black's stage. He's 17 pixels tall and both gives and takes plenty of punishment. Beware of his mighty throw!
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Pink, Green, Orange, and Black.
  • Recurring Boss: You fight Smash Daisaku no less than four times in the original game. You also fight Green three times, the first two of which are battles against Seven Force.
    Smash Daisaku: "I NEVER DIE!"
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Guess.
  • Reflecting Laser: The Tiger form of the Seven Force shoots a laser from his tail that does this.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: A heroic version, for Stage 5. The Emperor has taken Yellow, your level objective that pops up as soon as it starts? DESTROY THEM ALL!
  • Sequential Boss: Green's Seven Force. At the higher difficulties, you're going to have to fight all seven forms.
  • Shout-Out: In Super Heroes, the fact that the Four Treasure Gems mention in Hard Mode that they come from different dimensions may not seem like much, but if you pay close attention to how they describe the worlds they come from, it may be a reference to previous Treasure-developed games.
  • Skippable Boss: Technically speaking, you don't have to fight all of the bosses in Black's maze. Whether or not you do is completely up to the computer, though.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: If something isn't blowing up on screen at any given moment, then you're either dead or doing it wrong.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: The final boss in Super features a homing green projectile flying around at all times. It is practically impossible to dodge... but doesn't actually deal damage. You'll want to get hit on purpose to trigger Mercy Invincibility and have an easier time dodging the other attacks.
  • Terrible Trio: Pink and her flunkies Kain and Kotaro. Their physiques, shades, and token vehicle named after the leader are a rather obvious Lawyer-Friendly Cameo.
  • Theme Naming: All of the major characters except the recurring Smash Daisaku are named after colors.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: Pink and her minions, after her defeat.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level:
    • In the original game.
    • Also used in the Gunstar Super Heroes, but much less successfully.
  • The Unfought: General Red/Gray is defeated by the gems in the first game, as well as the Easy mode story of the remake, and offed by Green in the remake's other difficulty levels.
  • Unwitting Pawn: You and Colonel Red/General Gray, for the Destructor in the first game and Green and Yellow in Super Heroes for the gems itself in the remake.
  • Wall Jump: While not an essential skill for the most part, it's still easy and fun to do.
  • The War Sequence: The first thing stage 5 tells you is "DESTROY THEM ALL!!". You should follow its advice.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Most of the villains in Super Heroes if you pick Hard Mode.
  • Worthy Opponent: Green, in both games.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Melon Bread. There's absolutely nothing it can do to hurt you. The only way you can actually get hurt is by purposefully waiting for it to do a single, weak attack. Otherwise, all it does is sniff at you and dance around on the top of the screen.

Alternative Title(s): Gunstar Super Heroes


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