Usually when I review games I try to look at the original first and then the sequels. I've never been one to try very hard though so it's expected that most of the time I'll just review what's currently available to me. I've had both Gunforce games for awhile and yet only the sequel had been reviewed for the longest time. Quite frankly I guess it's because the first game sucks.
Since we're on a downward spiral already let's keep tumbling while I do my explanation of the game's story. There's an enemy army with many fortifications and they are planning to play host to an alien armada, you're some dork who is the only hope for humanity. That just kills it right there for me. The hero looks like Carmine, the running-joke of the Gears of War franchise. He's dolled up in all of this armor yet he can only take one hit. He probably wears the suit to hide his shameful body and the fact that he has not a single hair on his chest.
If the hero can only take one hit then the character-design should have just said whatever and dressed the hero up like the dudes from Contra. Sure the guys from Neo Contra were fully armored but that entire game was a parody of the series(which is confusing because Contra in itself is a bit of a parody). The developers of GunForce 1 apparently didn't understand the meaning of fun so we're left with a couple of nobodies and game that's about as dull as one could imagine.
The structure of the game wants to be Contra with its running and blasting action yet somehow it also wants to be Shinobi with its emphasis on finesse and timing. It's a very disjointed piece of work and becomes frustrating when most of the bosses are just really tight bullet patterns with nothing resembling a satisfying encounter. Sure similar games don't exactly focus on the crazy bullet-patterns but at least one tends to fight something cool like a massive tank with spider legs or whatever. Here it's just cannons, maybe some enemy soldiers, and a door that has to be destroyed, fantastic. The level-designs also tend to be very plain and they show none of the ingenuity found in Irem's other games. There's no fun in climbing ladders and riding moving platforms in this genre. It can be a more entertaining game for those who put forth the effort to beat it without continuing but the same could be said about any arcade title. Why not put forth the effort to play a game that actually wakes up in the morning and goes to work?
Judging by the complete 180 the sequel does I think the developers understood where they went wrong and delivered the perfect lead-in to what they're most well-known today for, the Metal Slug series. Many of the best entries in the Run&Gun genre have one thing in common, a sense of humor. When an entire game is based around one or two soldiers blowing up an entire army it's such an improbable concept that a laugh has to be had every now and then to keep things together. GunForce 1 is such a bland affair that it makes me want to ignore its good qualities and while I can admit it's unfair there's really nothing at all I want to do to change that.
Game Rating - 2 out of 5 stars
My Rating - 1 out of 5 stars