Gunstar Heroes is a run and gun game developed by Treasure for the Genesis/Mega Drive and published by Sega in 1993.
The side-scrolling shooter has become one of Sega Genesis's most beloved games. There isn't much to the storyline as expected of a game in its era, players take on the role of Gunstar Red and Gunstar Blue, as they battle an evil empire to gain control over a set of powerful gems. The game takes on a style similar to what is presented by the Metal Slug series and has some of the most innovative level designs a player can experience.
You have the freedom to choose the order of the levels in which you want to play, however, do not assume this is an attempt to reduce the difficulty of the game. The levels will keep you on the edge of your seat with one of the designs that vary from zooming around in mine-cars to exploding dice.
Gunstar Heroes will toss you around like a rag doll, even going as far as introducing multiple boss battles in a close sequence, and these boss battles take a lot of effort, often similar to completing a whole level.
Also, did I mention that bosses aren't found in fixed positions? Unlike other generic shooters of its era, the boss battles do not occur at the end or the midpoint of the level; instead, they can appear at any given moment, taking you by surprise.
The game has enough mechanics to keep you focused on what's ahead rather than spamming the fire button and running through a level.
The characters can slide, grapple, and even pull off a sick aerial attack if the situation calls for it giving way for some epic combinations. The Gunstar's also have different firing stances. Each Gunstar can equip a primary weapon, but as the game progresses, you can add a secondary weapon into your arsenal. These two weapons can then be combined to make an ultrapowerful weapon that will blast your enemies to smithereens, from rapid-fire machine guns, flamethrowers, lasers, homing shots, the combinations are truly epic.
Visually the game is stunning, with unique manga-like characters and creative boss designs (they often have multiple forms and attacks). Most bosses are comprised of multiple sprites put together to create a giant monstrosity that towers over you; the developer team really did go wild with their imagination on this title. You will also notice that the bosses are clones of famous characters (Vegeta from Dragon Ball, Darth Vader, Bison from Street Street Fighter II
, and more), brilliant!
Finally, the game can be played alone as a single-player or with the aid of a friend, cooperatively - we strongly suggest trying the second one.
In other words, Gunstar Heroes is a must-have. The unique designs, the fast-paced action, and the stunning graphics just beg you to play it, and there really aren't any reasons that stop you from playing this well reputed classic.