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Gunman Clive is a new shooter platformer from Bertil Hoerberg, the same people behind the charming but clunky Helium Boy and the frankly dumb Trouser Trouble. OK, so their previous outings weren't anything to write home about, but Gunman Clive's unique aesthetics, old school gameplay, and the hilariously self-aware trailer for the game quickly made me love it.
This game is one of those rare titles that marries old school and new school like peanut butter and jelly. The gameplay is structured like Mega Man with a dash of Contra, but mostly the former, while the visuals take the western theme in a unique direction by making everything look like it was sketched onto an old-timey wanted poster. You move, jump, crouch, and shoot with some virtual buttons and a D-pad, and that's about it. A large variety of enemy animals and bandits have distinctly retro attack patterns, and levels must be won through extreme caution or through memorization, again, like Mega Man.
The art style makes it easy to distinguish friend from foe by making all types of enemy one color. If it's blue, yellow, or red, just shoot it and ask questions later. Enemies will drop slices of cake that are used to refill your health as well as various gun power ups, including a power shot and of course, a scatter shot. Each world is capped with a challenging and epic boss fight, including one against a train-mech that was really cool. The level design remains consistently interesting, often throwing fun gimmicks your way. I could not wipe the smile off of my face while playing the mine cart level. I really miss those…
The big thing that will turn people away from the game is the difficulty. Checkpoints are not very frequent. It's not quite NES hard, but it's definitely up there as far as iOS platformers go. To some this will be a flaw. To others, like myself, this makes the game that much better, for my way is the old way, you see. The virtual D-Pad can also be a bit awkward, and too often I accidentally crouched when I meant to dodge left or right. Once you get used to them though, the controls aren't bad. Gunman Clive is iOS Universal and available for only two dollars at the time of this review. It embodies everything great about retro gaming, and I really recommend it. Hopefully the developer can keep up their momentum and bring us more great titles.