I didn’t play Gunman Clive the first time around, despite noting the positive critical attention it received on release, so while playing its highly anticipated sequel I was surprised to realise that it was nothing like I imagined it to be. Granted, I got the platform shooter I expected, but in a game full of oddities and irrelevant levels this adventure was nothing like I’d played before.
It’s your task to defeat the latest group of bandits in town, playing as any one of four characters who all boast different abilities; Clive and Ms Johnson deal with bad guys with a gun, while Chieftain Bob stabs at his enemies with a spear. The fourth character is unlocked at the end of the game and is completely different to the rest, but I won’t spoil the surprise for you. While jumping and shooting enemies form your basic game mechanics, each one of the wildly varied stages offers different challenges at every turn. You’ll be timing jumps in gravity themed levels and dodging giant Tetris bricks in another; none of it makes much sense, but it’s all imaginative fun that keeps you pressing on.
The 25 levels flow directly into each other seamlessly, with your adventure beginning in the Wild West before sending you through dinosaur filled jungles and a Japanese town, complete with sumos and sword wielding ninjas. No two levels are the same, and while some of the settings are familiar each level has its own distinct feel. There’s also a variety of vehicle based challenges where you find yourself riding a triceratops through enemy territory and escaping a giant saw on the back of a panda.
Enemies are a mix of the gun-toting outlaws you might expect to the outlandish such as raptor riding bad guys and giant enemy robots. There are some brilliant boss battles to be had too and these play fantastically to each stages theme, like a rooftop samurai showdown and a battle with a destructive T Rex. Just like the rest of the game these end of stage events are odd, challenging and enjoyable in perfect measures.
You’ll happily complete the game in one sitting, and while it took me just over two hours to complete first time around, there’s plenty of reasons to replay as each character makes the game feel like a different experience. The fact I got through it so quickly doesn’t mean the game is easy, having racked up a total of 173 retries during my first play through. I can put most of these down to my own stupidity and mistakes; not timing jumps right or running headfirst into enemy gunfire, but the short, sharp levels kept me pushing forward despite my own shortcomings.
The wonderful sketched pencil style of the first game is back and it’s as glorious as I wanted it to be. Skies shimmer as if being shaded in as you run past while fires burn in the forefront, made even better by the subtle but attractive 3D. Even down to character movements the game looks great; watching your panda steed climbing over obstacles is fluid and not chunky, something I’ve come not to expect from most handheld games.
While it’s over sooner than you’d like, Gunman Clive 2 is a gorgeous little indie game regardless of if you’ve played the first title or not. The gorgeous level design and constant variety make this a short burst of challenging fun that every 3DS owner should own.
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