Gunman Clive is a neat, tiddly little platformer recently dropped onto the 3DS’s eShop. It’s resume includes such platforms as the iOS App Store and Android Marketplace, where it received moderate reviews. Most of these tended to focus on the action-platformer’s lack of reliable input. Playing a whole bunch like an 8-bit Mega Man game, the one-man project from Bertil Hörber is a delicious slice of gaming on a small budget. With the main detractor from previous reviews gone – the 3DS has a wonderful joystick-y thing, y’know – how does this short but sweet title hold up with its $1.99 price tag?
WANTED: Western Style
Firstly, the game has great presentation, never breaking from its sketched-looking, western WANTED poster vibe. There are splashes of color here and there to make gameplay more accessible, but Gunman Clive’s low-saturated approach works very, very well. The characters are wonderfully depicted, Clive hunching forward aggressively while Ms. Johnson’s bussle wiggles as she ascends ladders. While adding nothing important, the 3D effects are great too, so I managed to keep them on most of the time.
The music is also enjoyable in a campy way. It’s not going to win any awards, but the spectrum is filled with Enio Morricone-inspired tunes to some great Mega Man homages. Considering the rest of the game, it all works snugly and confidently.
Seasoned, Throwback Gameplay
Action platforming is no new genre. Don’t expect any sort of upheavals to the twenty-something set of rules laid down in the ‘80s. That being said, there’s no reason to think that it’s by any means boring. The formula works and is executed here with adoration and aplomb, mixing in a little Contra here and a sprinkle of Doki Doki Panic there. However, in the end, the dish comes out of the oven, piping hot, tasting and smelling like a true Blue Bomber adventure. And really, if you’re making an action platformer, why not go top shelf?
On top of this, each world is unique, bringing a new setting and new (to the game, not new-new) gameplay mechanics. Can you imagine how happy I was to get to the mine cart level? Can you imagine how gleeful it made me to be platforming on the ceiling? Along they way you’ll also get some classic weapon mods like a split-shot and a rocket. And who doesn’t want a rocket-shooting six shooter?
Real Replay Value
“Terse” is a good way to describe Gunman Clive. Granted, with a price tag lower than a coffee most places (more food connections?), there is enough replayability here. While the short campaign takes less than 90 minutes to finish, the two characters play very differently. Clive can move faster and shoot while running while the lovely Ms. Johnson is slower with a floaty jump that reminds me of a certain Princess.
However, it is the brevity of the game which makes its full replay value enjoyable. I don’t ever, ever, ever want to play all of the content in Skyrim with all the options; it’s just too damn much. When a game with such a competitive price asks if you want to try it again in a wholly different way for a short while, it’d be folly not to. In other words, quality over quantity, people.
The Best Secret Unlockable Character I’ve Ever Played
Pretty much worth the price alone.
While that shortness is a boon in many regards, some might feel it’s too short. Why pay $1.99 for a 3 hour game when Bejeweled Blitz is free, right? Barring moral dispositions, there is no counter to that. It is a small game. But – really – it’s a loving, deft game created by one man and sold for pennies. Give it a shot.
Gunman Clive is not the best thing on the eShop. It is a great little treat for yourself on a rainy afternoon; something to idle away an hour or two on the couch when you’re bored with the morose bleakness mainstream gaming can offer. It’s well made, true to its roots and fun. I highly recommend it to those who love the genre and those who just love a good ol’ video gamey game. Gunman Clive is yet another excellent title on the eShop.
Review Platform: Nintendo 3DS