Easy as Alpha, Bravo, Charlie
Welcome to part two of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo review. Today I’m reviewing Gunbarich which is not a shmup but could be listed as an arcade “shooter” in the very least. It’s an Arkanoid clone in the same vein of Brick Breaker but much more entertaining and includes Gunbird characters like the infamous Marion. Use your pinball paddles to hit the ball into every brick to clear the area. Face new obstacles and boss fights while enjoying the visuals along the way. This game looks to be the unique title in the Bravo collection so let’s get into the details.
From the game select area, I love the energetic and interesting music. It sounds like you’re getting ready to have a great time and I can bet I’m about too! Choose Marion or Grutan based on their power, speed, and magic stats. A short overview of gameplay follows explaining the player must destroy the blocks before the end of the time limit to win. Other than that, nothing else is said and you’re thrown into the mix. As I stated before this is similar to Arkanoid but since not everyone had the privilege let’s explain a bit. The main ball will bounce about the level and you’re tasked with not allowing it to pass your character. In this case, your character has two pinball-like paddles that can be moved to bounce the ball at different angles. It takes some practice and precision but you can get the hang of it soon enough.
Gunbarich supports tate mode so Flip Grip engauge.
This is a small plastic accessory that turns the Switch sideways and allows the player to utilise the entire screen for gameplay. Unfortunately for those without one, try playing on your TV because in handheld mode you’ll be cutting off a decent amount on each side of the screen.
First impressions are positive and I’m digging the carnival vibe here. The theme and colours just fit that feeling well. It reminds me a lot of the clown man stage from Mega Man 8. Alternating red and yellow trim around the stage, Jester-like enemies and flannel patterns on the sidebars (for those not playing with a flip grip) all breathe the circus theme. Music is light-hearted and positive. It sounds similar to a children’s show background music but I like it. It’s best enjoyed on the pause menu due to the games sound effects. Each time the ball is hit on any surface it makes a sound that will annoy those around you. It becomes overwhelming and calls for sound options to be adjusted which they can be on the pause menu.
Each character feels different
I prefer Marion because of her speed stat. She is the Queen of Gunbarich with her speedy controls. Gameplay is quick and the ball can knock around the stage at fast speeds when flipped continuously. Marion especially comes in handy when facing enemies that shoot paralysing orbs. When this happens the player must shake the left joystick until free, hopefully in time to bounce the main ball back into play. Rounds last sixty seconds unless additional time is added by hitting golden clocks with the pinball. We’re just going to call it a pinball now for name’s sake. Plenty of items to hit in addition to the clocks, such as the 10,000 point multiplier that looks like Yuan-Nang from Gunbird. It’s kind of difficult not to accidentally run into items especially with the multiball. My favourite item is the gun that allows you to shoot bricks.
While you’re trying to stay engaged with the pinball some interesting enemies will appear, then disappear. Then reappear again shooting paralysing bullets. These piranha plant looking guys bring a fun twist to the game for a couple of reasons. If you’re hit by the bullet it will cause a momentary lapse in movement but the bullets can also be hit and bounced back at the enemies. It brings a good change of pace to the game. World 3-1 has these evil little Santas that blast the same paralysing bullets on both sides of the screen. Little wicked buggers are annoying and ramp up the difficulty, keeping me on my toes. It’s devastating to get hit with their bullets and watch as the pinball passes by. It’s a tough world but it only gets more difficult, we must simply press on.
Now we come to my favourite portion of Gunbarich, the bosses. They take up a decent chunk of the screen and look bizarre. I find myself more entertained during these fights than the normal levels. They change order for no rhyme or reason that I can figure out. One is some type of bird or swimming character with earrings and a few minions that follow. Another boss is an evil Santa teddy bear with circling presents, it’s funny to see it turn evil and show its sharp teeth. My favourite is the pumpkin jester king that has arms circling around him. Each boss looks quite different from one another and vary slightly in their battle style. No matter the order the difficulty will increase.
A couple tips: Don’t flip your paddles at the beginning of levels. World 3 if you stay still the enemies will shoot paralyzing bullets directly at you and bounce off. Other than that just keep your eye on the ball.
I found it more difficult to play in docked mode with a pro-controller. Handheld with the flip grip feels more comfortable, and movement is easier to control. Using the pro-controller I kept getting stuck at world three but in handheld mode I was regularly getting whooped at world four.
Gunbarich is winning in the brick breaker genre and it’s cool that Gunbird characters are present. It’s a fun game to play in short spurts. Replayability isn’t the highest considering the short game-play but overall it was pretty fun and I would recommend it.