STAFF REVIEW of GunWorld 2 (Xbox One)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

GunWorld 2 Box art I’ve been gaming pretty much my whole life. I still remember the day that I got my NES as it was a pillar foundation of my broad gaming history. Gamers my age will remember the plight of having games that seemed nearly impossible to beat unless you had the corresponding strategy guide for hints or a friend who had beat it already. I grew up on the likes of Mega Man, Legend of Zelda, and other classics, so when a game tries to mimic these experiences, waves of nostalgia comes over me, bringing me back to those days of sitting as close as I could to the TV without getting in trouble from my parents, trying repeatedly to complete a level.

Developer m07games, who just happens to be one guy actually, gives a hilarious description for his newest title, GunWorld 2. It states that it's “The sequel no one asked for, to the game that nobody liked!” The first GunWorld passed by me, but I always tend to gravitate towards NES era looking games simply because of my childhood. While looking like a classic NES game is one thing, actually making it play and feel like one is a whole other challenge, one that GunWorld 2 nails for better or worse.

From the official game description alone, you get the vibe that GunWorld 2 is full of humor and jokes throughout, and it does, and this extends to the plot as well. After the main hero Dwayne saved the planet in the first game he has gone missing and is living a life of solitude. But there’s a new alien invasion threatening the planet once again, so President Eagle seeks out Dwayne to help save humankind once again.

Now if you were wondering why the game it titled GunWorld, it’s quite simple really, as guns grow on trees. Dwyane has seeds that instantly sprout trees that can be picked and used for ammunition. It’s a silly story and premise, but it’s filled with enough jokes and humor that makes it entertaining and worth the time to enjoy, provided you can overcome its classic difficulty and actually progress.

When beginning GunWorld 2 you’re offered 3 different modes, each of which have their own unique challenges. The main mode, which I suggest focusing on, is the RPG mode. Here you play GunWorld 2 like a classic adventure game, almost a carbon copy of how Legend of Zelda II is structured. This mode has many more RPG elements within (hence the title) such as leveling up and allowing you to save your coins earned from defeated enemies to spend later. Leveling up allows Dwayne to have a larger health pool aside from the starting 3 hearts. And just like Legend of Zelda II, walking around the overworld map will show shadow-like figures that will put you into a mini battle before you can progress on your way if they run into you.

The second mode, Old-School mode, puts all of the levels in order but doesn’t have you focusing on any RPG elements, but there’s a huge caveat to this, which I found out too late. While it doesn’t mention it in the descriptions, all of the achievements for completing levels are actually tied to only the RPG mode. This became an issue for me for a few reasons, as I initially started the RPG mode for review purposes, but wanted to progress further in the game quicker so I decided to play Old-School mode instead. This was somewhat of a mistake, as I didn’t learn till hours later that your progress isn’t saved like it is in RPG mode. So, the next time I started up the game I discovered that I lost all of my progress and had to start all over, nor did I get any achievements for beating the first handful of levels after hours of retrying.

If you’re a real glutton for punishment though, the third mode will challenge your skills even more as you are only given one life and the levels themselves are random. Given that you only have three health hearts and can die instantly in pits and from spikes, good luck, you’re going to need it. This mode is truly for the sadistic gamer.

GunWorld 2 is without a doubt inspired NES classics like Mega Man and Legend of Zelda II, but there’s inspiration and then straight up copying. Just like Mega Man, you gain access to a boss weapon once he has been defeated, which you’ll need to access special areas in previously completed levels. When playing in RPG mode, new weapons must be purchased in seed form from the vendor in town. It’s an interesting little mechanic, and in Old-School mode you’re simply given access to the new weapon since you don’t need to save up the coins to purchase anything. When you’re not shooting things though Dwayne will use his combat knife to knock enemies off ledges, shatter armor, and climb surfaces.

Each level is structured much like other Mega Man games with checkpoints, but they are very far and few between. To help with the difficulty you are able to spend your coins on a respawn item should you choose (in RPG mode). This allows you to respawn right away once you die, drastically shifting the difficulty in your favor, granted that's if you can afford to keep purchasing these respawns. These may be unneeded for some diehard gamers, but for those that don’t have the time to dedicate hours on a single level, repeatedly dying, they are a welcome optional addition. There is actually an achievement for completing RPG mode without using any respawn items, so keep that in mind if you’re a 'cheevo-hunter'.

When playing RPG mode, you’re given hints of where to find the bosses on the overworld map, but be prepared to wander for some time looking for the specific area you need to go, even more so if you forget the hint you were given. This again plays almost exactly as it did in the original Legend of Zelda II, so I’m not sure if it was by design or not.

If you didn’t know that GunWorld 2 released in 2016 you could easily mistake it for a classic 8-bit NES game from the 80’s. While the overall art style looks great in the retro form that is offered, the issue I constantly had was trying to read the text boxes, as they can look hand drawn and sloppy at times. The soundtrack is very fitting of the setting and mood of the game, and it is quite catchy at times, but be prepared for repetition when you’re stuck on the same level for over an hour.

I really only had two major issues with GunWorld 2 that are worth pointing out. Technically, the game ran well aside from when transitioning from area or area or backing out to the menu. During these times it feels laggy and almost as if your system has frozen for a few moments before getting back to normal. More importantly though, the difficulty curve needs some tweaking. You begin with a small tutorial of the basics, but then the game simply throws you into the deep end without much practice against easier enemies, something that would help you get a feel for the controls. You’re taught the bare minimum and then the game lets loose, only to have die when you encounter a new type of enemy without any inclination of how to properly defeat them without losing any life. I still hate the flying birds that dive at you, almost guaranteed to knock you into a pit.

I appreciate a game that attempts to hark back to the age of difficult games, especially when the source material is some of the most beloved games from the era, but in regards to GunWorld 2, it can be quite confusing and frustrating at times. That being said, you can grind the random battles for a while and level up, gaining more health to make things easier, or spend coins on the respawn items. Regardless of my complaints though, GunWorld 2 will bring back nostalgia for anyone that grew up with a NES, and if you’re a Mega Man fan, you’re going to feel right at home. While not perfect, I had a few laughs and was entertained for a few hours, which isn’t bad considering the low entry price of $7.99 CAD. Are you a bad enough dude to go save the world?

Overall: 6.9 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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