Gunlord X

Do you want bullets? How about a lot of bullets? Why not all the bullets available? Done, they will cover the screen almost the entire time but that should not come as a big surprise considering it’s a game called Gunlord X. Originally released in 2012 for the Neo Geo and Dreamcast, it’s been granted a second chance at finding a wider audience on the current generation of consoles.

There is very little story and yet a heaping amount of 80s action movie cheese. You are the Gunlord, whatever that means, and you have been captured. Your generic adversaries inform you of this and you respond by exclaiming that you have to save your wife and you proceed to break out of your restraints instantly, prompting the question of how you got captured in the first place. Escaping would be difficult it not for your ability to just teleport a gun into your hands and go. All of these scenes are showcased with such poor grammer that you have to stop and wonder if it was an intentional nod to the poor translations of an era long past.

The rest of the adventure involves running around different locales, blasting everything that moves. In order to accomplish this feat you are provided a standard spread shot, a beam attack and a variety of temporary weapon pickups. The issue with this is that there are so many pickups on every screen that you are seldom really sure what it will be when you fire next. Luckily, from the flamethrower to the rockets, every weapon is fine except for the very powerful but restrictive one that can only be fired to the left or the right.

Graphically the game excels, it looks fittingly retro and handles moments of complete and utter chaos on the screen without even a dip in the framerate. There are very few options beyond being able to throw on a CTR filter and while the game doesn’t push any technical boundaries it shows a suitable amount of creativity and variety. Every level possesses a different landscape and the enemies you come across are well designed with the highlight being the many imposing looking level bosses.

Imposing looking is the key phrase as the game is never as challenging as it might appear. In fact, if you are decent at this type of game you will fly through the whole thing in only a couple of hours. Additionally, the spawn points are very generous, so if you do die you will never lose much of your progress. Even when you have to use a continue, provided you have them left, it’s the same spawn points so you won’t have to go back to the beginning of the level.

Speaking of continues, the way to obtain more coincides with the one aspect of replayability in the game. Each level houses a number of large gems that when collected in full will add another continue to the save file. I generally enjoy collectibles, in theory, but here they are particularly vexing due to the frequency in which they are stashed behind walls that have no visual indicator to show that they are not solid. Far too much time was spent pushing against every surface hoping to stumble upon an opening. It was also quite annoying to be deprived of the platinum trophy as I was only missing the one to collect ever big gem in the game, despite being told it was done in the in game accomplishment screen.

Lastly, we need to discuss how this all comes together through the controls. Running, shooting and even scraping the surface of every wall works perfectly fine. The only really big downfall, which will lead to a lot of falling down, is the awful platforming. There is little to no consistency with the height or distance of each jump. Often it will be required that the character runs off of the edge of a given surface by a couple of pixels before hitting the jump button in order to successfully cross the gap. The silver lining is that the requirement for precise jumping is mostly needed for gem collecting, which is an optional activity. In the end the name of the game truly is all about shooting, a lot.

Gunlord X is a decent game that finds heavy inspiration in the old Turrican titles. If that genre of retro gaming is a preference, then this is an easy buy. For others, the low cost still won’t be enough to overcome the few obvious flaws and the relatively short runtime.

~~Sandro Luketic~~

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