Gunman Clive is a great little 3DS western title from Bertil Hörberg, who previously worked on Bionic Commando: Rearmed. You take control of the titular hero (or a floating, Mario 2, Princess-like character), in a quest to rescue his damsel in distress, which was motivation enough for decades of game-plots. You move from left to right, blasting away at enemies, carefully platforming and picking up weapon upgrades. The game has a very "Mega-Man meets Sunset Riders" (an amazing title for SNES) feel to it as you charge through levels, avoiding bullets and insta-death traps like buzzsaws and spikes until you hit the level-boss.
The Story & Flow
As previously mentioned, the whole of the story takes place in the first 10 seconds of the game, with a bad guy riding off with your woman. That won't stand, so you pick up your revolver and head out to get her back. The game starts off as a straight western, with outhouses and saloons in the background, barrels to take cover behind and coyotes, cowboys and... ducks as your main enemies. Before you know it, you are fighting transforming steam engines who spray oil and fire at you, and then you saddle up a rocket and blast into outerspace, where you shoot down squid-like aliens and other interstellar nasties.
The gameplay is the kind of straightforward but difficult fare that was popularized by Mega-Man, among other old-school titles. You'll traverse disappearing platforms, dodge boulders, asteroids and rotating buzzsaws, ride in mine-carts and hustle your way through the beautifully drawn and animated levels. Boss battles are fun and interesting, like the train that transforms into a steam-punk robot, and a boss that moves beautifully and reminds you of Hörberg's past work. Nothing here is too difficult, but bosses and scenarios can take a little while to master, as you need to learn their patterns and attacks, just like the classic games Gunman Clive is patterned after.
There isn't a lot in the way of pickups, but despite being scarce, each makes a big difference and suit different situations. There are a few gun pickups that will be familiar to anyone who has played Contra or any similar side-scrolling shooter; a three bullet spread, a rocket-style, slow but powerful ammo type, a speedy, rapid-fire upgrade, a heat-seeking bullet and a few others. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but the game does a good job of salting them around, so I rarely felt "stuck" with a certain ammo upgrade. Upgrades are lost instantly when you take damage, but unlike other titles in the same vein, you have a health bar, so there are no one-shot kills, unless you land on spikes.
Graphics & Sound
The art style and animation is gorgeous. It perfectly fits the western aesthetic, and looks almost scribbled with pencil, which lends the game an authentic feel. The boss design is a real standout, but even the ducks, birds and henchman look like they were drawn with love. The soundtrack and SFX are also very well done (points if you can identify what NES game they lifted the "taking damage/dying" SFX from). The soundtrack has a western-vibe to it, and even the space music sounds how it should.