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Gunman Clive (Nintendo 3DS eShop) Review
Review by 
8.12/10 from 9 user ratings
 
Iím going to throw out a few names here to start; Mega Man. Donkey Kong Country. Super Mario Bros. 2. I suppose I better stop before I get you too excited. Gunman Clive, a Wild West themed platformer/shooter by Swedish developer Bertil HŲrberg (it seems like every game I review lately is European-developed), pieces together minor elements from all of the above games; except in the case of Mega Man, from which it borrows quite heavily. The end result is not quite at the level of these esteemed games, but it is a decent effort nonetheless... while it lasts.

Gunman Clive originally released on smartphones, a fact which may scare some of you off. You shouldnít let it. The true birth of this game was a Wii homebrew project which then morphed into the aforementioned smartphone game. This is not a touch screen game shoehorned into a digital pad and button control scheme, but precisely the reverse, and it is now finally available the way that it was meant to be controlled. And it controls very well, using the 3DS digital pad to move while the Y button jumps and the B button shoots. That is the full extent of the controls. It might not look like it, but Gunman Clive feels like an NES game all the way.

   
Ducks and guns, guns and ducks. The circle of life is complete.

Aesthetically the game is pleasing to look upon, using a sketchy hand-drawn style slightly reminiscent of Hotel Dusk (if nowhere near as detailed), and the 3D effect is well done and adds that extra pop. However, the color palette is fairly limited, and never really changes throughout the game, so once you have seen the first stage or two, you have (visually) seen all that there is to see. The music is also enjoyable, and the best way that I can describe it is Mega Man lite with a Western influence. It doesnít quite live up to the level of the Mega Man franchise in the music department (not trying to raise anyoneís hopes just to have them dashed), but it definitely has that flavor and thatís not a bad thing.

Speaking of, itís impossible to deny the influence of NES-era Mega Man in the core gameplay of Gunman Clive. Sure Mega Man is not the only platformer/shooter out there, but Gunman Clive lifts so heavily from it that it almost feels like a direct homage to Mega Man at times. The game starts off a bit slow, with Clive (or another selectable character, Ms. Johnson) jumping around a Western town, dodging bullets and shooting enemy cowboys and ducks (yes, ducks), and a couple of stages into it you may even be wondering what the fuss is about. It picks up quickly, however, and soon enough you will be fighting wind currents, riding on trains, flipping gravity, navigating disappearing block patterns (sound familiar?) and more, with the occasional boss fight to mix things up. Just when you think you have the game figured it, it throws something new at you, including some things that I definitely did not anticipate.


Sir, can I please see your tic... ARGH, WHY ARE YOU SHOOTING AT ME?!

Gunman Clive also takes a page from the indie game school of design that states that gamers would rather be playing games than staring at game over screens. Much like BIT.TRIP RUNNER and many other indie games, when you die, youíre instantly right back at the last checkpoint, and you have an infinite amount of lives to use as you work towards your final destination. I have no idea why it is taking the major developers so long to understand that pointless breaks in gameplay are not a good thing, but Gunman Clive is yet another indie game that handles deaths right.

Itís hard to find too much to complain about in Gunman Clive, other than some repetitive visuals and the length, but there is a particular area where you are bouncing off of mushrooms and need to get your timing just right or you wonít get the high bounce required to clear the gaps in front of you. I died way too many times in this section, and it began to become a bit frustrating, as I didnít fully understand when I was supposed to be pressing the jump button, and it seemed to give me the boost sometimes and others, not. I would also add that the core gameplay, while fun and surprisingly varied for such a short game, isnít exactly doing anything new, and what it does do has been done better in other games (including its main influence, the NES Mega Man games.) The boss fights arenít particularly inspiring either, and most can be defeated by adhering to simple patterns.

   
If you hold the jump button with Ms. Johnson, she floats. No game has ever done that before.

Iíd say more about the gameplay, but with this game more than any other that I have reviewed, I fear to give too much away. You see, Gunman Clive is only about an hour long from start to finish. It packs that hour with a good variety of gameplay, but it is still only an hour of content, so the more that I talk about it, the more that I worry that I am saying too much. In the end you may get a bit more than an hour out of Gunman Clive, however, depending on how many times you run through the game, and with three difficulty levels and two playable characters to start (each with their own nuances), as well as a third unlockable character that plays a lot different than the other two, there is some incentive to play through the game more than once. And if the length is still bothering you, keep this in mind; Gunman Clive has a $2 (NA) price tag attached to it, which may be the first time that a Nintendo platform game costs the same as its smartphone counterpart.

Gunman Clive is the very definition of short but sweet, although a bit too short and not quite as sweet as the games that it borrows from. A part of me finds it difficult to fully recommend it, as it doesnít really offer much that hasnít been done before, and it is over almost as soon as it begins. However, the core gameplay is definitely fun and offers a lot of variety, there is some decent challenge involved (especially on hard mode), and with the $2 price tag it is tough to complain about the length all that much. I suppose that you can read a bunch of reviews and get yourself educated on Gunman Clive before you make a decision, but with such a low barrier to entry, why not just try it out yourself? What else can you get for $2 in todayís economy?

Personally, I wouldnít mind if this $2 eShop game thing became a trend...


I know what youíre thinking, duck. Did he fire six shots, or only five? Well...

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Posted: 01/05/13, 03:58:23    
 
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Nice review. A few typo's (an Nes!) but good overall. Had my eye on this game since I first saw mention of it here on NW, just been waiting for an extra 50 cents.


Posted by 
 on: 01/05/13, 10:25:21
Not a typo, I am using NES as an acronym (since it is!) so using it like this, it is pronounced "en ee es" in which case "an N E S" is correct grammar.

I know some people call it a "Nes" in which case well... I just typed it, a Nes would be correct.

Unless you mean the case, but for the way I'm using it all caps is customary.


Posted by 
 on: 01/05/13, 12:00:37  - Edited by 
 on: 01/05/13, 12:03:35
@Zero
I meant the an thing. But it just looks so wrong. I always pronounce it 'ness' though.


Posted by 
 on: 01/05/13, 12:09:54
Yeah it really depends on how you pronounce it. Which apparently is pretty split. I always just read it like a traditional acronym, saying each letter. Same with SNES, I say "es en ee es".


Posted by 
 on: 01/05/13, 12:17:10
@Zero
Damn Americans can't pronounce anything right...


Posted by 
 on: 01/05/13, 13:24:11
Bought the game lastnight to playing bed.its great for $2 and I'm glad I bought it. It's a nice game to play with a few minutes of downtime.


Posted by 
 on: 01/05/13, 15:26:11
This game sounds and looks very cool, especially with the Mega Man influence. Even though it's short, $2 is hard to beat! I'll have to give this one a try, thanks for the review.

What's with the ducks in this game, haha.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 02:43:10
roykoopa64 said:
What's with the ducks in this game, haha.

Just you wait man. Just you wait.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 03:16:10
Good review! Hmmm.... I may have to pick this one up.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 03:18:30
Whoa, there's no way I could get used to calling it a "Nes." En-ee-ess all the way!

Just picked this up and played through the first boss this morning. It's fun so far! And the fact that it keeps track of your time, deaths, and has more than one playable character bodes well for the replay, at least.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 04:15:12
Gunman Clive also takes a page from the indie game school of design that states that gamers would rather be playing games than staring at game over screens. Much like BIT.TRIP RUNNER and many other indie games, when you die, youíre instantly right back at the last checkpoint, and you have an infinite amount of lives to use as you work towards your final destination. I have no idea why it is taking the major developers so long to understand that pointless breaks in gameplay are not a good thing, but Gunman Clive is yet another indie game that handles deaths right.

Are developers getting too soft on players? You're not supposed to die! Dying is a penalty in games, beefs you up for next run! "Well, I don't want to die again and come all the way back HERE." I'm aware that we're talking about a videogame here, but if you can just fall in a hole with relatively no penalty..who cares, right?

Do you wish the game had more color? I don't know how long I could happily look at it. It does stand out though..and fits the Old West feel. And it has birds in there, which apparently (see: Chasing Aurora) is your favorite thing ever? I thought you liked turtles. --Turtles vs. Birds, what happens? What about Jordan vs. Birds? Turtles vs. Bird? Some great game ideas here..

--Now, I see the other stuff...where is the Donkey Kong Country influence? Have I missed it?

Pokefreak911 said:
@Zero
I meant the an thing. But it just looks so wrong. I always pronounce it 'ness' though.

Whaaaaaaaat.

@TriforceBun

I know, right!? NES is totally an acronym, though I am aware that some acronym's are pronounced...like GIF. I've JOKINGLY called it a ness or a sness w/ Lou before, right around the time we were talking about Baseball Stars and *snort* (SNK) Stadium.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 07:56:13
Pokefreak911 said:
@Zero
Damn Americans can't pronounce anything right...

QFT. They can't spell either. Colour has a U.

Mr_Mustache said:
Pokefreak911 said:
@Zero
I meant the an thing. But it just looks so wrong. I always pronounce it 'ness' though.

Whaaaaaaaat.

What?

Nessssss, Snessssss.

Yesssssss.

Whilst the likes of you and Zero are off playing spelling bee, we've finished talking ages ago and gone back to actual gaming.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:01:43  - Edited by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:02:45
@Mr_Mustache I might not have been clear about it, but I didn't necessarily mean that when you die you start exactly where you died (although the stages are short so you're never set too far back) but just that when you die... within like a second or so you are playing the game again right away, no fuss. Contrasted with NSMBU where you die, you get a game over animation, it pops you out of the stage, you have to select it to get back in, it shows the little loading screen with the name of the stage and your lives... THEN you're finally back in.

I just right now did a little test and... it takes less than 1 second from when you die to when you are playing again in Gunman Clive... significantly less actually, it is basically instantaneous. Meanwhile it took me a full 13!!! seconds from death to playing again in NSMB U. THAT is what I am talking about when I say "when you die you are instantly back" and it seems indie games often get this right while others do not.

I know it isn't the best comparison because Gunman Clive is a linear game and NSMB U lets you choose different stages, which may be why it knocks you out, but still... Mario could do this so much better if it wanted to.

The DKC influence is a mine cart stage that plays very, very much like DKC.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:24:03
@Zero
I cannot stand straight respawning in some games. Game over and death screens help me reflect on what went wrong.

@Shadowlink
That's why Oxford makes dictionarys.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:29:16  - Edited by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:30:26
@Pokefreak911 Oooook. You could always just pause and reflect.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:42:41
@Zero
It's not the same.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:50:37
Fine, then developers could add an optional game over screen for those who need time to reflect.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 08:53:27
@Shadowlink

No you're not! You're butting into a conversation about what is right and what is WRONG.

@Zero

Ooh! I thought you were going to say halfway barrels!

@Pokefreak911
@Zero

Optional Game Over Screen sounds awesome. Its even hotter-- I mean much worse, in Arkham City when Harley Quinn is berating you. *sigh* Now I gotta go stare at my new Harley Quinn desktop wallpaper for 7 minutes..


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 09:38:28
@Zero
That is definately going in my games from now on. Thanks :D

@Mr_Mustache
Me: But, comic characters aren't real.
Hormones: But look at her!!
Story of me playing Arkham Asylum.


Posted by 
 on: 01/08/13, 09:44:10  - Edited by 
 on: 01/08/13, 09:46:18
I got this game on Sunday. It's fun! Only took a half hour with Clive.

Duck mode is a good challenge, if a bit odd.


Posted by 
 on: 01/16/13, 12:48:13
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