Switch version tested
Part one of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo is Gunbird. This shmup is a classic, apparently, I played the sequel on the Dreamcast and didn’t care for it but that was prior to my rising interest in the genre. Since that I’ve been playing SO many shmups and can’t get enough. My friend Dace at Shmuptopia played this gem and I was instantly inspired to make the purchase. What a fantastic port for the Switch. Gunbird was ahead of its time and serves as a fantastic example of a great shmup.
If this game piques your interest I highly advise purchasing a Flip Grip. It will allow for Tate mode (turning the Switch sideways) and is the saving grace from the wasted sidebar space. At a $16 (13.99) shipped buy-in price, it’s worth the cost considering it can be used for other games. Tate mode will enlarge the game and open up game-play in a great way.
Gunbird is a visual stunner, such a good looking game cannot be overlooked. Vibrant colours and satisfying explosions fill the screen with each run. Bosses look incredible and their transformations in battle are awesome. With each shot, movement, and shape transition, great sound effects follow. I’ve been caught off guard multiple times and hit due to enjoying the graphics and not paying attention to gameplay. It’s crazy to think this was released back in 1994 in the arcade. Way ahead of its time.
There are seven difficulty options so those make Gunbird very approachable from all skill levels. Those that are terrible at shmups will still enjoy this gem on the lowest difficulty, called monkey. Multiple pilots give way to another difficulty tier in weapon choices and ship speed between them. I enjoy swapping pilots after each run to see their weapons, but it also changes the order of levels. All pilots have a story of their own with alternate endings. Cutscenes are cool, the dialogue is a quick and easy read.
Once a boss is defeated and power up is given, its a mad dash to obtain it before moving to the next level. This setback is minor unless you don’t have a lot of power-ups in which case it’s a bummer. The screen also doesn’t show your amount of power-ups but continue to stack them for more points. Gunbirds leaderboard is locked to local so you won’t be seeing others on it. It also shows different difficulty runs on the same board which is weird. I wish it was separated by difficulty and was available online to compare with others.
Gunbird controls feel good, ship movement is fluid and bullet speed is right. Each pilot will move at different speeds along with their shots but they feel balanced in their own respects. Music is charming but difficult to hear over the sound effects. Menu options allow you to change both options as well so the voice volume. Occasionally you’ll hear a baddie laugh or your pilot’s exclamation. Best bet is to turn the music highest and the other two slightly lower.
Replayability is high with the amount of difficulty and pilot options. Multiple and alternate endings boost that aspect even more. Graphics are beautiful, shots are satisfying, and the sound effects are great. I would definitely recommend this title to all players and have high praise for Gunbird.