Game Name: ガンバード (Gunbird)
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): Atlus
Developer(s): Psikyo
Genre(s): Vertical Shooter
Release Date: December 1995
Serial Number: T-14402G
Region: JP

Gunbird ScreenshotIf I could chose one word to describe Gunbird it would be ‘quirky,’ whilst the gameplay is classic vertical shooter fare, the visual style is very different to the normal science fiction or World War 2 influenced vertical shooters of which there are many.

With it’s cute animé steampunk style, Gunbird easily stands out from the crowd as something special (even if the gameplay is nothing new).

Continuing with the visuals the characters, enemies and bosses are all very well detailed and haven’t really aged since Gunbird is near the limits of how good a 2d game can look.
The 5 playable characters are all distinctive ranging from a 13 year old witch to a Russian robot and there fore are easily recognised, which makes identifying who’s who whilst playing in 2 player mode a non issue, unlike a lot of science fiction based shooters where the player ships are very similar often with only a few details being different.

Gunbird ScreenshotEach characters attacks are also easily distinguished particularly the power up attacks which include include missiles, homing stars and rather oddly what looks like a group of Mysterons.

There is some sort of story to this game but since I don’t understand Japanese all I’ve been able to gather is that the 5 playable characters all want the pieces of a mirror and some other people are trying to stop them with a series of strange bosses; ships, statues, trains etc.
Then after getting the mirror and using it there’s an even weirder boss to fight. To be honest though I never really care about the story in a game like this, I just want to destroy stuff.

During the game the sound effects and exclamations from the characters are all well executed and add to the atmosphere of the game without being over powering, the only down side is the audio during the credits which annoyingly you can’t skip, if you love j-pop you’ll probably love the credits sequence but for the sane members of society it will grate very quickly.

Gunbird Screenshot      Gunbird Screenshot

The games longevity is aided by the excellent two player mode which can really bring the game alive and wide range of difficulty settings (7 in all) which means you should always be able to find a level of difficultly which suits you ability.
Plus of course there is the never ending urge to beat your highscore which can lead to long playing sessions late at night.

Overall Gunbird plays like a typical vertical shooter but thanks to it’s visual style, really stands out from the crowd and provides a relatively unique gaming experience.

With plenty of replay-ability and the excellent 2 player mode it’s a shooter that should be in the collection of anyone who is remotely interested in them.

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