Gunman Clive – What We Think
“Help!” cries Ms. Johnson as she’s carried away by a group of bandits, leaving you – Gunman Clive – to rescue her. Prepare to take down bad guys and platform-hop your way through saloons, mines, moving trains and more as you make your way through each level in the hopes of rescuing the helpless dame.
Shoot’em Up with Style
Developed by Hörberg Productions, Gunman Clive is a retroesque side-scrolling platformer with original graphics and solid controls. The theme itself brings to mind the cowboy gunslingers of old-time westerns, where the simple task of saving the kidnapped maiden goes a long way–through 16 levels in fact!
Each level is a fast-paced journey from the left side of the screen to the right, smoothly transitioning from one area to the next as you venture forth through the west. Armed with only a pistol, you’ll dispatch enemies who want nothing more than to prevent your progress.
Luckily, you’ll never run out of ammo and weapon upgrades aren’t hard to find. There’s usually at least one upgrade to be found within an area all on its own, but enemies also have a chance of dropping a shiny new weapon. Each upgrade is useful, but I’ve found my favorite to be the spread shot, which fires three bullets out in different directions. Perfect for sniping the bad guys before they even know what hit ’em!
There aren’t many games who voluntarily splatter the landscape in a fresh coat of yellow, but it works well into the theme of a Western-style game and to which it is easy to grow attached. The way that the graphics move constantly is also very cool. I never grew tired of looking at the levels: A cave looks like a cave. A saloon looks like a saloon. And yet, the art style keeps the landscape clean of any distractions. You’ll always know where to go, as you’ll always interact in some way or another with the objects and platforms on the screen.
I also appreciate the fact that enemies are normally different colors, making it easier for them to stand out against the background. When everything else is yellow, including the protagonist, having that splash of color helps to focus entirely on the enemies and what they do.
Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Each level feels unique. There’s always something new being introduced. You’ll control a minecart, learn how to manipulate platforms to avoid being hit by enemies, and time your jumps to land on platforms that rapidly disappear – watch your step! It keeps the game engaging and seems to scale up in difficulty the further you get into the game.
For example, I wasn’t very impressed with the 1st level. It seemed too easy and I was concerned that the rest of the game would play out the same way. I was very much mistaken as new areas began to demand more skill in platform jumping- something that’s never been a strong point for me. I died over and over again until I figured out the trick to getting past various obstacles.
The Doom Train
The variety of enemies in the level is also a pleasant surprise; while familiar faces from past levels will continually reappear, there will also be new enemies in every area to deal with. They often have different attack patterns, so not only will you have shoot down that one bandit who followed you from level one, but also avoid bomb-dropping pelicans, charging horseback-riders, and even bunnies!
The boss stages are exciting and challenging with mechanics that require you to be fast on your toes and ready to shoot the moment they give you time to do so. I died a great number of times to one boss in particular. One level consists of traveling up a moving train to the engine…which coincidentally happens to be a giant train-to-mechanical-abomination boss. I had expected bandits. I had expected guys with guns. I was not prepared to fight a flame-throwing train.
Hit and Run
To that end, I’m a bit disappointed that I can only fire my pistol in two directions – left and right. Meanwhile, most enemies can fire their weapons diagonally, vertically, and wherever they want. It is much harder to position and hit them before they hit you, and often requires jumping or ducking in a certain way to avoid return fire.
It’s a small drawback though; most enemies have heavily choreographed movements, and you can simply wait to learn the attack pattern before taking them down.
More aggravating, is the rapid respawn time for enemies that have been killed; there are times where I don’t even leave the screen before they spawn again and hurtle towards me or surprise me with a bullet to the back. I’ve died way too frequently from respawning bats that knock me off my platform while I’m trying to focus on jumping a platform and dodging bullets. You can’t afford to dawdle at the edge of the screen at any time for fear of the game punishing you soon after.
Smoke those guns
Gunman Clive is a fun romp through the frontier. I died a lot, but mostly due to my own lack of platforming skills. Even then, the game was addicting enough to warrant retrying the area until I beat the level once and for all. It feels rewarding to make it past all the enemies and obstacles and tackle on new challenges and foes, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of what this game has had to offer.
Gunman Clive, my hat’s off to you. A retro gunslinger joyride of a game.
Watch the trailer for Gunman Clive below: