Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-05-03 17:26:24
The 3DS eShop and Gunman Clive
I've been making use of the 3DS' eShop service a lot more recently. The Level-5 sale made a big difference, allowing me to buy up Liberation Maiden, Crimson Shroud and Aero Porter for just over $10. The eShop has a great mixture of new and retro games, and, as I outlined in my write-up of Mutant Mudds recently, the service is a natural marriage with short but sweet platforming games.
Gunman Clive (3DS/iOS) has been knocking about for a while now, and it's definitely worth the couple of dollars it costs to purchase. Taking control of the eponymous Clive, a mute, gun-toting cowboy in an authentic (for the most part) Western setting, players run and gun their way through various screens, avoiding bullets, leaping on platforms and dispatching enemies with skillful precision. The game makes liberal use of the best elements of nostalgic titles such as Mega Man, ensuring that it remains familiar to play from the moment you turn it on. Although starting off with simple level designs, Clive eventually soars across trains, speeds along a track in a runaway mine cart and, in an act that belies the Frontier aesthetic, dodges meteors in the game's surprising latter levels.
Four worlds, divided into four levels each leading up to an end of world boss battle, offer an interesting selection of stages. Throughout, Clive can pick up weapon buffs, creating a diverse roster of gun types. One hit from an enemy returns Clive's gun to the default, basic level, and so careful strategy is encouraged rather than running in all guns blazing. This is trial-and-error gameplay where even the hardiest of players can die with ease, with Clive being able to sustain fewer hits the higher the difficulty setting. Levels lack checkpoints, although can be run through in a couple of minutes. Most of the player's time is spent making gradual progress through these devious stages, getting a little further every time.
While Gunman Clive will last the player anywhere between one and three hours depending on how good they are, the game is worth at least a second playthrough with the unlockable duck character, who cannot attack and instead relies on its limited ability to fly. This makes the game more about stealth than shooting a second time around, changing the play style required. In addition, players can work to improve their times running through levels, ensuring that hardcore gamers have plenty to sink their teeth into while perfecting their runs. Doodle-based visuals and a fitting, if limited, soundtrack keep the game feeling fresh and original, despite the obvious influences from other 2D side-scrolling shooters.
For a fistful of dollars, Gunman Clive is worth every penny of the asking price. It isn't a long game by any means, but clever enemy placement and the ability to tailor the difficulty of the game makes it an essential purchase for fans of side-scrolling shooting games and SNES-era platformers. The 3DS is a great platform for these short bursts of gameplay fun, and I only hope that we see more games like Gunman Clive hitting the system in the future.