The Weekly Five: Why Dreamcast fans should be playing Gunlord

The indie Dreamcast game Gunlord from NG:DEV.TEAM has been out for less than a month, and while I’m sure many fans of indie Dreamcast titles have picked it up and are enjoying it, there are always those who are still on the fence and are either waiting to hear more opinions or for a price drop. I’m sure there are also those who have their Dreamcast stashed away in a closet and need a reason to dig it out. In this week’s Weekly Five I thought I’d share five reasons why Gunlord is worthy of a Dreamcast fan’s collection.

The Packaging

NG:DEV.TEAM really gets that a large part of video games are the box art. I mean, yes the quality of the game itself is very important, but ask any gamer from the 80’s and 90’s about opening a brand new game back in the day and they’ll tell you that it was a thrill to take in the cover art, to pop open the case and page through the manual. Even cart/disc art was a treat. Gunlord has the best art I’ve ever seen for an indie Dreamcast title. The cover itself has two variations: the standard and special edition versions. The manual is full color and contains even more amazing art, and the discs are even adorned with full color art. Really a fantastic package. Compare this to some big budget current gen titles, Gunlord makes most games look like crap on a shelf.

It’s Not a Shoot ‘Em Up!

Okay, so you DO shoot things up, and there ARE brief side scrolling spaceship shoot ’em up segments within the game. However, Gunlord is NOT a shoot ’em up. It’s much more akin to a action-adventure platformer like Metroid. You run and jump and move all over the map shooting and dodging enemies in an effort to make it to the boss. The game does not force you to move from left to right, and you’re free to explore at your leisure (if you consider enemy filled stages leisurely). I know that some indie Dreamcast fans wanted a break from the constant spaceship shoot ’em ups, and Gunlord is just that.

It Has Variety

So I said it’s not a shoot ’em up, yet I’m showing off a shoot ’em up section of the game. What gives? Well, despite being mostly an action-adventure platformer, Gunlord does mix things up by throwing shoot ’em up stages at you, but they are welcomed! Stage one of the game is rather lengthy, allowing players to try out all the Gunlord’s abilities and to get accustomed to the gameplay. But when stage two kicks off, the Gunlord hops into his ship and you get a fun, and brief, shoot ’em up segment. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy and quite quick, but it’s a fun diversion.

It Has Many, Many Weapons

One of the major gameplay strengths of Gunlord are the many ways in which you can shoot your way through the stages. Stages are filled with various power-ups, some lying in corners, others within Super Mario Brother’s like floating boxes. Before obtaining power-ups you have your standard shot and a proton weapon not unlike a Ghostbusters proton pack. The proton beam can only be used for short periods of time before it loses its charge, but it charges back up when not in use. The standard gun shoots a weaker bullet with a wide spread, but via power ups you can fire off massive bullets, bullets that bounce when they hit walls and bullets that resemble a wall. Basically, you’ll be pretty far into the game by the time you sort out the many power-ups.

It’s Reasonably Priced

Unlike a number of older Dreamcast titles, Gunlord can be had for a reasonable price: $40 plus shipping for the standard version, $50 plus shipping for the limited edition which includes the soundtrack (which would be the sixth item on this list had this been “The Weekly Six”). Given that this is a new title, that it is a good game, that it is a genre not represented on the console, and that a lot of effort has been put into the packaging; I’d say it’s well worth it. Dreamcast gets a new game, you get another reason to play the Dreamcast. Win-win!

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6 responses to “The Weekly Five: Why Dreamcast fans should be playing Gunlord

  1. straitJacket says:

    Anyone “waiting…for a price drop” is probably going to be disappointed as NGdev tend to produce these games for a limited period, maybe have a reprint if demand calls for. So the prices are likely to be fixed.
    Barry, you could add to the 5th point that the standard edition costs the tenth of the price of the MVS cart-and even better value when compared to the AES.

    I found this game to be fun yet deceptively linear,
    while it may seem GunLord has branching levels from what I’ve played (I’m not very good) these just lead to dead ends which house gems and such.
    As mentioned I’m not the most competent player, it would have been nice to have save points so the more ‘casual’ player could see the game to the end.

    • Barry the Nomad says:

      I’ve found that play-asia.com drops prices on indie Dreamcast titles sometimes, especially when they remain in stock for a while.

      Good point on the MVS carts, real good price compared to those.

    • straitJacket says:

      I forgot that Play-asia stock the new Dreamcast releases, they must buy bulk at a discounted price since there’s near to no difference in retail price.

      Last month eurogamer interviewed Timm Hellwig, and when the future of NGdev was brought up, Hellwig sounds uncertain if they will continue to port their Neo Geo releases to the Dreamcast.
      “While the cartridge market grows, the Dreamcast market shrinks, but we will adapt to these changes and migrate to new platforms for ports if necessary.”

      That would be a bloody shame, you can read the interview here:

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-06-04-never-neglect-the-niche-ng-dev-team-on-developing-for-dead-systems

    • betablocker says:

      They also have a tendency to releasing their games for a single dollar on iPhone that is 50 times cheaper than Dreamcast.

    • Barry the nomad says:

      Only Fast Striker released to iOS to my knowledge, but it was soon pulled and hasnt been back since.

  2. straitJacket says:

    Just stumbled upon this less than favourable review:
    http://www.screwattack.com/reviews/review-gunlord

    He seems to be unaware that Gunlord is a Neo Geo developed game that is ported to the Dreamcast.

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