Written by Gav Russell
Do you remember the scene in that famous Sergio Leone movie starring Clint Eastwood where Clint is running along the roof of a moving train and he shoots some bandits and then shoots a flock of ducks and a slice of cake falls out? No? Oh, wait, that doesn’t happen in a stupid old Clint Eastwood movie but it does happen in Gunman Clive!
Gunman Clive is a side-scrolling cowboy platformer with some lovely shooting mechanics that was made by Swedish studio Hörberg Productions and released in 2012. Yes, you can count on You Died for the most up to date gaming news. You can currently buy it for something like 30p from the 3DS Estore.
You play as Gunman Clive (though you can also play as Ms Johnson if you wish, whose skirt can slow down her descent following a jump) who is on a mission to rescue the mayors daughter from some Bad Men. The story is totally incidental though; Gunman Clive is such a success because it relies on two basic elements – platforming and shooting a cowboy gun – and excels at both. Platforming is chunky and solid; none of that floaty imperfection here. Jumps and their subsequent landings feel precise and heavy. Lovely. Shooting the bad guys to death is a delight, too. With the bandits sometimes hiding in hatches or popping out from behind cover, the game expects you to be ready to duck and dodge at the last minute, popping off a shot as you turn in mid-air in order to end a man’s life before he manages to hide again. You can also buff your gun with various temporary upgrades; one causes it to fire buckshot that spreads across the screen while another shoots out a strange, lazy purple tracking bullet that sort of mopes across the screen before finding its target. You can also get a laser.
The little bits of futuristic tech dotted through Höberg’s vision of the old west, coupled with the sketched art style and the fact that sometimes you have to shoot pelicans out of sky imbue Gunman Clive with a very subtle surrealism. Its ideas never outstay their welcome either, constantly pushing you onto the next thing via the short, fast paced stages. Sometimes there are boss fights (one of them is a giant robot) and even they’re actually quite good.
Gunman Clive is excellent. And it’s cheap. And there is a sequel available too which I’ve downloaded but not played but, you know what? I bet that’s good too.
Ten pelicans out of ten!