Gunman Clive has been installed on my 3DS since acquiring it in the first Nintendo Humble Bundle back in May 2015. It released on the eShop in December 2012 and I remember thinking it looked promising then, especially for the couple of dollars Hörberg Productions was asking for it. Nonetheless, I skipped over it every time I turned on my 3DS until yesterday. Searching for something I hadn’t played and preferably a game I’d be able to complete in a brief amount of time, Gunman Clive immediately came to mind. It satisfied both objectives and was a distinctive platformer in the vein of the NES-era Mega Man games.
The game’s art style was eye-catching although pictures alone don’t do it justice. The sepia toned tint was in keeping with the game’s old west setting and easily the most noticeable feature. Perhaps equally distinctive however, were the lively sketch-like details permeating 3D objects in the foreground and the 2D scenery making up the background. The sketches had a few frames of animation and while playing were reminiscent of a-Ha’s “Take on Me” music video, you know that animated music video from the 1980s. For what it’s worth, the fore and background were clearly delineated so there’s a noticeable depth with the system’s 3D effects activated, which is novel. That said, the 3D effects weren’t necessary for any gameplay reason and simply added window-dressing.
Progressing through the game’s twenty or so stages, the difficulty in navigating obstacles and eliminating enemies ramped up nicely. There was a section or two along the way where I’d lose plenty of lives and grow frustrated but they never felt insurmountable, in part because lives were unlimited and stages were short. Enemies were mindless drones and easy to kill; most didn’t even bother turning around to face me if I got around them. I could only shoot directly in front of or behind Clive, which was annoying when I wanted to take out enemies flying or jumping above me. Alleviating this somewhat were the many different weapon power-ups, for instance spread shot and homing guns; although I usually lost the benefit seconds later, after being struck by an enemy. Bosses capped off specific stages and lived up to their larger-than-life stature.
It only took me an hour to complete Gunman Clive my first time through and I thought it was an exceptionally well-polished action-platformer. The distinguishing art style caught my eye back in the day and I’m glad to have discovered it’s even better in motion. Generally, it was a breeze, though as I progressed the platforming obstacles grew more challenging and inventive. There were some really fun gravity-based sections towards the end that put a great big smile on my face upon completion. But, like the game itself, they were over before I knew it. I’m left wanting more, which is a great thing to say after beating a game!