Switch version tested
Review code provided
Who doesn’t like a decent run and gun game other than pacifists and sword purists? Well, as one of the latter, run and gun games are a lot of fun, but mostly had their heyday back in the 16-bit era. The games that we see now are usually a homage to the classics, often told in a retro/pixel-art style. Gun Crazy is one such title that plays on the classic shooter with an appearance very reminiscent of the 90s.
As a 90s fan, the visuals caught my eye, first of all, then that familiar gameplay of, well – running and shooting everything in sight! You play a futuristic police officer blasting all sorts of nasties, with no real narrative thread. Gun Crazy is all about gameplay rather than character arcs, and therefore the story is as flat as the graphics. Flat as in ‘2D’ – the actual graphics and colour palette is excellent and reminded me a little of Gunstar Heroes. If only it offered the same enjoyable experience, then I’d be laughing. Ha ha ha ha – that’s me laughing in lieu.
Gun Crazy throws you into the action almost immediately, and there’s no hesitation in shooting your first robot thing. Using the left stick for moving about, B for jump and either X, ZL or ZR for shoot, you’re pretty much made. There’s also a dash button with the A button, and it has its uses, but the playing environments are often very tight, so you never really feel the full benefit, and the evade is nothing like, say, 3000th Duel. The other issue with the controls was aiming. Instead of being a twin-stick shooter like most modern titles, you have to move and aim with the same controls. Gun Crazy relies on you keeping the pressure on the boss battles, and that’s not possible when you’re dodging their attacks and aiming at the same time.
There are four levels to play through. Before thinking that it’ll be over faster than you can say ‘just four levels for this shooter on the Nintendo Switch that pays homage to the classic 16-bit titles of the 90s, surely this will be over by the time I read these words’, the difficulty is a throwback to yesteryear, so when you’re out of credits, you have to restart the game from the beginning. Just a heads up: there aren’t many lives or credits to experiment with, so expect to grind this a few times unless you’re a veteran. Scratch that – I’m a veteran, and I struggled. But that wasn’t solely the difficulty. It was boredom.
Despite being a frantic shooter, dashing about and blowing the hell out of everything in your way, Gun Crazy is a little monotonous. The levels are quite uninspiring, and other than a few changes to the platforms you have to weave in and out of, not much happens in terms of variety. Entering the second stage was, I felt, a bonus stage similar to the game Pang! – an arcade favourite! But it was the actual stage and each time to popped some balls – steady now – more would respawn and looking at the state of my health, I wasn’t inclined to replay the level again if I failed. It’s just so repetitive and unexciting in a lot of areas.
The first couple of bosses are super easy to deal with, and there’s almost no challenge at all, then a little further on, the concept of bullet hell is teased and dodging the attacks make you feel like you’re playing a game that now requires some skill. A welcome addition. However, the bosses don’t have any real character to them and seem like something in your way to getting to the next stage, rather than a battle of wits or having the incentive to eradicate an evil force. But, the worst thing about Gun Crazy that jeopardised my enjoyment was the shaking camera.
Each time you shoot, the screen shakes, but with a 3D effect that is mildly disorientating. At first, I thought it was a one-off and would disappear in time, but it’s ever-present with the rapid-fire of your gun and subsequent power-ups. I don’t get motion sickness from games but found this mildly disorientating at the backgrounds would very subtly shift, making me feel a bit uneasy when a 2D action platformer like this should be a paint-by-numbers experience like Random Heroes. Gun Crazy isn’t about reinventing the wheel, so I don’t know why this ‘feature’ was added as it’s offputting. The best way I can describe it is the loading screens for Killzone 2 where you could tilt the controller, and the static image would bend a little. Hopefully, that paints a faint enough picture.
Gun Crazy is quite a shortlived action title. The screen shake may put off a few people, and the repetitive and uninspiring levels don’t reflect the neat presentation or excellent sound effects. However, for the price and taking into account that the controls are easy to pick up, Gun Crazy borders of the average/above-average when it comes to shooters.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One
Release Date: 01/05/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Shooter, Action, Platformer, Arcade
Developer: Ritual Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop