Important Importables Review: Gunners Heart for Windows

May 12, 2012 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Gunners Heart for Windows

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Title: Gunners Heart
Price: $19.95
System(s): Windows
Release Date: June 5, 2009
Publisher (Developer): DHM Interactive (EasyGameStation)
ESRB Rating: N/A. PEGI 7 for ages 7 and up.
Pros: Graphics are good for a doujin game. Easy to play, even if you are playing the original Japanese version. Can upgrade your gunner and get items. Each gunner has different kinds of weapons. Two people can play, or you can have the computer control a second ship to help you. New Game+ lets you keep unlocked weapons. 20 levels to play through.
Cons: Story is practically non-existant. You will need to learn to how use some weapons correctly on your own, as the game doesn’t explain much. Targeting enemies with some weapons is troublesome, even after you learn how to aim properly. No unlimited continues. Each level is really short. Spamming barrel rolls can make your ship overheat.
Overall Score: 7/10

EasyGameStation has got it good. After all, most Japanese doujin game makers don’t expect to become world famous developers, but titles like Recettear and Chantelise have helped the company get the recognition it deserves. The funny thing is, Gunners Heart proves that EasyGameStation has always been this good and deserving of recognition, even back when it was creating original sequels to existing games.

Everybody wants this necklace!

Since Gunners Heart is an on-rails doujin shooter, story isn’t really a big deal. You don’t have to worry about feeling left out if you didn’t play SkyGunner. All you really need to know is that Ciel, Copain, Femme and Rival are pilots who fly gunners, which are sort of like planes, but also look like hang-gliders. In the previous game, the first three were pretty much established as defenders of the town of Rive, fighting against a main name Ventre and his Poulets who want to cause all kinds of trouble for people. Rival was, well, their rival.

In Gunners Heart, our quartet has come across a pendant artifact that is apparently Very Valuable. So much so that Ventre has returned with his Poulets and two new, female agents to try and steal it from Ciel, Copain, Femme and Rival. Which means each level has players picking one of our crew of heroes to take flight and try and shoot down Ventre and his agents and keep them away from the artifact. It’s not particularly memorable or riviting, but the character art is cute.

Not terribly memorable, but still quite entertaining.

Gunners Heart is a pretty basic, on-rails shooter. Which means it’s pretty different from the original game, which allowed players to fly pretty much anywhere they wanted. Still, for this entry the on-rails thing works really well. The goal is, after all, to defeat as many enemies as possible, chaining together attacks if possible, to earn a huge score and tons of coins so you can buy items and upgrades for your gunners. This way, all you have to worry about is dodging, moving, aiming and shooting. Plus, it means that EasyGameStation was able to put together a better looking game, since the level runs are all predetermined.

It also staves off the curse of repetitiveness by offering an assortment of characters and weapons. While you only start off with Ciel and Femme, you eventually can use Ciel, Femme, Copain and Rival on story missions, with each having different weapons. Granted, the controls are always the same and it isn’t like you need certain characters to take down specific enemies or bosses, but having a choice is refreshing and does provide some incentive to return to the game. Plus it’s quite easy to control, meaning you’ll have no problem using your keyboard to fly through the skies and take down opponents.

The only thing that may trip up your overall experience is the rather common adjustment periods. For example, you’ll take some time getting adjusted to how the different secondary weapons work, like missiles and bombs. That’s because your standard gun automatically aims, but most of the secondary weapons tended to require you to manually aim at the enemy you wanted to hit. Which means wasting valuable time trying to get your enemy in your sights. That, combined with Gunners Heart not offering much time to adapt to using different kinds of equipment can make playing a little difficult.

Bosses also require a bit of thought as EasyGameStation took care to ensure they’re more challenging than the standard opponents. Each one has a certain kind of gimmick to defeat and they gradually get more difficult. It’s good, because it does end up requiring more thought than the rest of the game, but it was also a little frustrating if you decided then was the perfect time to start using a more effective secondary weapon you weren’t terribly familiar.

One final thing to note is that EasyGameStation also went out of its way to ensure players don’t spam secondary weapons and the ever-helpful, bullet-dodging barrel roll. Each time you do a barrel roll to avoid enemy fire or use a special weapon, the temperature of your gunner goes up. You can see how hot your ship is by looking at a gauge near your character’s portrait. Gunners Heart is somewhat similar to PixelJunk Shooter as a hot ship is a susceptible ship. It won’t directly kill you, but it could indirectly get you killed as overheating means you can’t do anything for a short while until your ship cools down. While I do think it was a good idea to tie that gauge to the extra weapons, I was disapppointed to see it connected to barrel rolls since that’s a necessary function that I found I often needed to dodge waves of bullets in later levels.

A fun little shooter that you don’t have to think about.

Lighthearted is pretty much the perfect word to describe Gunners Heart. It’s a cute little game that isn’t terribly taxing or challenging, but still can bring a lot of joy to someone who takes the time to sit down with it and tackle a few missions. Granted, there may be some adjustment necessary to get used to using various weapons and the story isn’t stellar, but it’s an entertaining time-sink. Besides, it provides EasyGameStation fans a chance to see what one of the developer’s earlier games looked like, so they can appreciate how far the company has come.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports looks quickly over Girls RPG: Cinderellife, and why it will probably never get a North American release..

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports talked about EasyGameStation games.

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