A cooperative Run-and-Gun game released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis by Treasure in 1993. Sometime in the future, somewhere not too 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) which...alas...is 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 game:
- A.I. Breaker:
- You can 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 Blaster Force, 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;
- All There in the Manual: The plot is only properly explained in the manual, although it differs between the Japanese version, the International release and Super Heroes. Fortunately, the 3D Classics release of the original game goes over both the Japanese story and separate International story.
- 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.
- 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 is a girl, but looks fairly masculine.
- Big Bad: The Destructor in the first game, Golden Silver, wants nothing but the end of the world, which even shocks the Empire. It's succeeded by The Megalith in Super Heroes. Golden Silver also appears in Guardian Heroes.
- Boss Bonanza: The fight against Transforming Mecha Seven Force is this in one boss; every time he's defeated, he switches to a new form. On the hardest difficulty, you have to fight all seven of his forms in rapid succession.
- 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.
- Bittersweet Ending: Golden Silver is defeated, but at the cost of Green sacrificing himself to destroy it. The credits roll immediately after this.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chasing Your Tail: Black's re-fight has an attack that sweeps the whole playing field.
- Crosshair Aware: The Tiger Force of the Seven Force has an attack that produces a crosshair. The player must avoid it in order to dodge the laser blast that the boss fires shortly afterwards. On harder difficulties, the crosshair will occasionally become larger, signaling that it's going to shoot an explosive projectile.
- 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.
- Do Not Run with a Gun: Optional for the original game - only by selecting Blue/Fixed Shot.
- Dub Name Change: There are quite a few changes between the initial English release and the subsequent Japanese version that came out the following day. The planet Gunstar 9 was originally Earth, and 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.
- 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.
- 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 an upgraded version from two of the same.
- Exploding Barrels: These appear all over Stage Five in the original, and deal damage to surrounding enemies when blown up. Except for one.
- FaceHeel Turn: Green. In the first game he is Brainwashed (has Easy Amnesia in the Japanese release), and in the second he is faking an alliance to avenge his father's murder.
- Fartillery: One of Orange' attacks is called "Break Wind", and predictably produces a damaging gas cloud.
- 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.
- Fisticuffs Boss: Curry and Rice in Black's Dice Maze completely disables your weapons, forcing you to use your melee attacks.
- Grind Boots: Towards the end of Pink's stage, the game has you sliding down the side of a pyramid whilst shooting mooks.
- 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.
- 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 his last words.
- Lift of Doom: Inverted. During the final stage in the original, when you reach the Black Fly and hop on the platform, it starts moving down.
- Made of Explodium: All enemies go down on a fiery explosion when you kill them. This includes a plant, a giant caterpillar and a giant gel.
- More Dakka: Any weapon (or combo of weapons) will produce a healthy amount of bullets that can cover the entire screen.
- 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.
- 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!"
- Reflecting Laser: The Tiger form of the Seven Force shoots a laser from its tail that ricochets off walls.
- 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!
- Roll-and-Move: The Dice Palace immediately before the boss fight with Black. There's a game board hovering in the air, and a giant die on the floor that you roll by shooting. Depending on which space you land on, you get transported into a short level, a miniboss fight, a bonus room full of powerups... or the second-to-last space that sends you back to the beginning of the board. Reaching the last space lets you proceed to the boss fight against Black himself... who also abides by Roll-and-Move rules. He's in a giant mecha, and before every attack he rolls a die, then walks the number of steps he just rolled.
- Sequential Boss: As its name suggests, Green's Seven Force can transform into seven different battle forms. The number of Forces the player has to defeat varies depending on the chosen difficulty, though all 7 must be fought in sequence when playing on Hard or Expert.
- 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: All enemies inexplicably explode when defeated, even if they are just regular humans. If something isn't blowing up on screen at any given moment, then you're either dead or doing it wrong.
- 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 of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.
- Theme Naming: All of the major characters except the recurring Smash Daisaku are named after colors.
- The Unfought: General Red/Gray is defeated by the gems in the first game and in the Easy mode story of the sequel, and offed by Green in the Super Heroes' other difficulty levels.
- Wall Jump: The playable characters can jump off walls to reach higher locations. This move also doubles as a damaging melee attack.
- The War Sequence: Stage 5 has no complex platforming segments, simply requiring the player to keep going forward while defeating waves upon waves of Mooks.
- 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.