Retrospective: Gunner’s Heaven

Now more than ever, indie games are a significant force in the gaming industry. The best games released each year are no longer comprised solely of so-called AAA titles with massive budgets and development teams numbering in the dozens, if not hundreds. Services like Steam’s Greenlight and Microsoft’s Independent Developer Program have helped bring these sorts of games to the masses. While that is undoubtedly a great thing for small developers and gamers alike, the sheer quanitity of games being released makes it next to impossible to keep up with them all. Invariably, we all overlook some great games every year; games we’ll hopefully discover and play at some point.

Back in the 90’s the indie development scene wasn’t quite as robust, and the number of games released each year was a fraction of what is released yearly now. Nevertheless, there are still games from those bygone eras that didn’t get a whole lot of attention. I will be highlighting many of them in the coming months here on Gamer Giving. It was tough deciding which game I wanted to start with, but after some deliberation I decided to go with Gunner’s Heaven.

First released in Japan in April of 1995, the game was also released in Europe in September that same year under the name Rapid Reload. I didn’t even know this game existed until I played it at a friend’s house on a hacked PS2, but what a revelation it was. The game was essentially a nicer looking version of Treasure’s Genesis classic Gunstar Heroes; a sprite based, 2D side scrolling shooter/platformer with fun weapons and big boss battles. It even had the same grappling hook mechanic found in Gunstar Heroes. Regrettably, the game was really short with only six levels, and there could’ve been a lot more weapons to choose from, but those are minor qualms. If you loved Gunstar Heroes like I did, or just love old school 2D games like I do, Gunner’s Heaven is well worth your time.

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