By Eric Pankoke on Wed, 01/27/2010
There’s a new man in town where dual stick shooters are concerned, and he’s certainly one tough hombre. Is he king of the hill, however? I’m not quite sure. There’s certainly a lot to love about Guerrilla Bob, but it doesn’t really bring much new to the genre. Still, you can’t hardly go wrong with a dual stick shooter, and Bob is definitely among the best. Besides, how can you resist someone that sabotages the army just so he can personally destroy his former best friend? You got nothing on Bob, A-Team…
In this game you play Bob, whose childhood best friend has grown up to resent him due to the different levels of success they have achieved. As a result your friend gets you framed and kicked out of the army, and then goes on to become the leader of a terrorist group. As luck would have it you discover the army’s plans to take out his faction, and reroute the army so that you can take care of your ex-friend yourself. Now it’s just you and your weapons Rambo-style, kickin’ tail and not taking names. Your ultimate prize is to take down your old friend, but are you man enough to do it?
The game employs the now familiar to most of you mechanic lovingly dubbed the “dual stick shooter”. Under one thumb you’ll have the control that moves your character, and under the other thumb is the control for firing your weapon. In many games that employ this control scheme you can flip-flop the position of the controls, but in Bob’s case walking is on the left and firing is on the right. That’s fine with me, though others might appreciate the ability to put the controls in opposite corners. On the plus side, unlike a lot of dual stick controllers I never felt like my fingers were “slipping” off of the controls. This is really important, because even a couple of seconds of down time when your fingers aren’t on the controls can be detrimental to your health. On the down side, you don’t seem to get the whole 360 degree radius when firing. Your shots appear to occur in 5 to 10 degree increments, which means you often have to both rotate your gun and adjust your position to be able to hit a lot of things. It just doesn’t feel as smooth as some other games in that regards.
That aside, it’s still a whole lot of fun running around blasting everything. You start off with a basic machine gun and along the way you’ll pick up a missile launcher and flamer thrower, along with power ups to each. The machine gun is great for runnin’ and gunnin’ at a rapid pace. The missile launcher is much more powerful and can hit enemies behind some barriers that the machine gun can’t penetrate, but there’s a bit of a lag between shots. I still haven’t really figured out what the flame thrower is good for yet, unless there’s some point where you get attacked by a birthday cake. The game divided into 8 levels, or at least that’s what the current map I’m on shows. For the style of game that Guerrilla Bob is, I was impressed with how long the levels were. Each level is graded, so you can always go back and replay a level to get a better grade. In addition to that there are three difficulty levels, so there’s plenty of action to go around for some time. It would be nice to have a Mini-gore / iDracula style “go until you drop” level for those who want a change of pace from the pre-designed levels from time to time, but I guess you can’t have everything (or can we – wink, wink).
So there’s got to be some bad guys in this game, right? Of course there are. You start out with your garden variety pot-heads (I mean it – they have pots on their heads). These are the grunts that get boring quickly, but make for nice bullet fodder while you’re waiting for something more challenging. Then you get the guys with the explosive barrels, which unfortunately are a bit faster than you. I was a bit disappointed that there were situations where you really didn’t get the opportunity to try and outrun them, but thankfully this rarely resulted in a fatal blow to my ego or my cigar life bar. Eventually you’ll get adversaries like a flame thrower dude, and… well, I’ll let you discover all that. After all, that’s one of the fun things about a game like this. I will mention one other thing, and that’s the bad guy tents. These are spawning points, much like various domiciles you’d find in a game of Gauntlet. Accordingly, you must destroy them to stop them from continually spawning enemies. I thought the fact that they made them tents was a nice touch.
On the left side of the screen you have a life meter, which ironically enough is a lit cigar. As you get hit the cigar burns away, and when it’s finally put out so are you. You start the game with 10 lives (at least in easy mode), and when your lives are up the game is over. I’m not sure if you can earn extra lives, but if you can either I never have or they’re very quiet about when you earn them. You can pick up various items along the way to help regain some health, however. There are also items that do things like give you temporary invincibility or allow you to do extra damage. You can even pick up some medals to help boost your score. The trick to all this is to remember that most of the specialty items aren’t going to be on the beaten path. This is a 3D world, so you need to be looking for nooks and crannies where all this stuff is hiding (it’s really not that tough to find).
As I just mentioned, Guerrilla Bob takes place in a 3D world. While I don’t wholly prescribe to the “it’s always better in 3D” philosophy, this certainly is a gorgeous world to behold. Whether it’s a poster of a beer mug or a clothes line hanging between two buildings, they spared no expense in adding details to this world. Road blocks actually have signs with legible words hanging on them instead of just a generic white box with some black pixels that “look” like lettering. As you fire off your machine gun you actually see shell cases flying. The ruined remains of destroyed objects like tents and gun turrets lay smoldering on the ground. Even the fire effects which often look cheesy in 3D games are pretty sharp here. The characters themselves are incredibly well done also. I really like when a particular character is first introduced and they go to this weird off-tone mock-up where they display the name of the character, kind of like a b-movie drive-in flick or a campy Saturday morning cartoon.
The sound effects are pretty standard fare for this type of game, but they still help complete the atmosphere in a good way. The highlight of the sound is Bob with all of his snide remarks, which are especially humorous because he doesn’t quite have the deep, gravelly tough guy voice you’d expect. I just wish they would have been even a bit more excessive with his comments than they were. I want to feel like I’m taunting the bad guys every step of the way. It might even have been a nice touch to have the villains throw back a comment every now and again – right before you shoot them, of course. The music was okay, but I really didn’t find it as compelling as I usually do in this style of game.
If you’re any kind of dual stick shooter fan and you’ve made it this far I appreciate the support, but quit reading and go buy this game. If you’re not a fan of the genre or (gasp) haven’t tried such a game before, Guerrilla Bob would be a great place to get your feet wet. Then again, it might just spoil the experience of other such games for you. No matter how you slice it, Guerrilla Bob is a great game with lots of actions and a couple of real interesting level design surprises that make the whole game worth while.
Overall Score: 9/10
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