Gunple: Gunman's Proof
  • Genre:
    • Action Adventure
  • Platform:
    • Super Famicom
  • Developer:
    • Lenar
  • Publisher:
    • ASCII Corporation
  • Released:
    • JP 01/31/1997
Score: 75%

This review was published on 11/04/2015.

Gunple: Gunman's Proof is an overhead action adventure game developed by Lenar and published by ASCII Corporation for the Super Famicom in Japan on January 31, 1997. The game was never released outside of Japan, because the Super Nintendo Entertainment System's popularity around the world had declined by this point in time. It's not hard to see why, considering the successor to the Super Nintendo, the Nintendo 64, had already been out for a good while during this period and therefore stole the spotlight from its younger brother. That's okay, though, because thanks to Aeon Genesis, the game has a full English fan translation available. You'll have to mess around with ROMs and emulators, but it's worth it. Simply put, Gunman's Proof is what The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past would be like if it was set in the wild west and had a dash of EarthBound in it. If that doesn't tickle your tummy, then I don't know what will. Gunman's Proof is nowhere near as good as A Link to the Past, but it's still a delightful little romp.

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In 1880, two meteors plunged into the Earth's atmosphere and landed on a tiny island close to the west coast of North America. Soon after this, strange events began to occur on the island, ironically named Strange Island. Monsters appeared out of nowhere and started attacking people, always leaving behind an odd crest bearing the name "Demiseed" on it. During these morbid happenings, a young boy from Bronco Village, located in the southern parts of the isle, goes for a walk outside his home, much to the chagrin of his parents. On this walk, the boy witnesses the crash landing of a UFO. Two aliens disembark the wreckage and claim themselves to be space sheriffs in search of an intergalactic criminal known as Demi, whom they suspect is currently on Earth. Because they can't survive the Earth's atmosphere for prolonged periods of time, one of the space sheriffs decide to occupy the boy's body in order to use him to further investigate the situation. And thus begins the adventure. If you like cowboys and space aliens, then this game is for you.

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To be honest, the graphics for this game are kind of bad, especially considering how late it was released into the console's lifespan. The sprites, while animated decently, are extremely basic and lack detail. They do still manage to look endearing in spite of this, thanks to the good art direction, but they could stand to look a lot better. The backgrounds are also fairly bland most of the time, featuring mostly flat colors. I mean, Illusion of Gaia came out for the same system many years earlier, and it looks worlds better than this. A lot of the graphics also look as if they were ripped straight from A Link to the Past; the dungeons are suspiciously similar. There's nothing wrong with taking a little inspiration from other sources, but this is borderline theft. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I suppose. The graphics certainly aren't awful, but they're very underwhelming for the time period. The music's pretty good, though.

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You control the boy who's being controlled by the alien. That's like, controlception. In keeping with the wild west theme, you're given a gun at the beginning of the game, as opposed to the sword you'd normally get in Zelda. That means you can walk and shoot in eight directions, diagonals included. Your standard gun has infinite ammunition, too, so you can do like a cop; shoot first and ask questions later. Normally, you change where you're facing when you move in that direction, but you can prevent that by strafing. Strafing allows you to consistently shoot in the same direction while moving around to dodge enemy assaults, which is mighty handy in this game. It's also possible to use your fist to punch things, but this isn't terribly useful. As far as defensive maneuvers go, you can crawl along the ground to avoid enemy bullets, but the drawback is that you can't attack while crawling. Also, you have limited lives. You'll immediately be resurrected after losing a life, but lose all your lives and you'll be sent back to town, forcing you to do some backtracking. In a way, lives function like the fairies from Zelda. Anyway, the controls feel pretty good.

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One of the things that make this game distinct from Zelda is the fact that it has power-ups. Even though your default gun has unlimited ammo, it's a bit weak; that's where the power-ups come into play. As you progress through the game, you'll unlock new power-ups that include new guns and melee weapons. Once a power-up is unlocked, enemies will start randomly dropping them upon their defeat. When you grab a power-up, it'll temporarily replace one of your primary weapons, with firearms replacing your main gun and melee weapons replacing your fist. Gun power-ups consist of machine guns, shotguns, bazookas, and even flamethrowers! As for the melee power-ups, there are only two, one of them being a drill and the other being an iron ball you swing around with a chain. After you run out of ammo for one of the special weapons, you'll revert back to your default arms. There are also bombs you can use to have a blast. Additionally, you'll occasionally find carrots that, when picked up, will let you briefly ride around on a mule, killing anything that gets in your path. While having power-ups in a game like this is weird, they're all fun to use and help out tremendously.

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Bronco Village is the sole town on Strange Island and your primary base of operations. It's the main hub of activity in Gunman's Proof, with its exits connecting to different parts of the island. This is a much happier place than the violent, lawless towns of most wild west films. In Bronco Village, you can chat with villagers, buy items from the friendly neighborhood merchant, and collect bounties on bosses you've defeated. Villagers will change up their dialogue over the course of the game, making it worthwhile to check back with them after every dungeon. Much of the story development also generally occurs in town, with new cutscenes activating every so often. On top of that, the only way you can save your game is by going back home and sleeping in your bed, so you'll be quite familiar with this location. Bronco Village may be small, but it's a cozy place.

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Outside of town are dangerous paths filled with monsters, and these paths lead to dungeons, which are even more dangerous. Dungeons are, like Zelda, the game's main attraction. Unlike Zelda, however, the dungeons in Gunman's Proof aren't about exploration and puzzle solving, but are instead about constant, unadulterated action. Each room pits you against a bunch of enemies that you'll have to gun down with maximum prejudice. There are some treasures you can find in every dungeon, but these merely serve to boost your score. Basically, dungeons are mostly a test of your combative abilities. What's interesting about the combat in this game is that, also unlike Zelda, it primarily consists of long ranged attacks. You're not the only one armed with a gun, as most foes in dungeons are also equipped with firearms, so nearly all enemy encounters result in firefights. Dungeons in Gunman's Proof are pretty basic, but the frequent gun battles make them exciting.

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Like in the Zelda games, you'll frequently obtain new items, skills, and countless upgrades while on your adventure. For instance, your maximum life gauge and default weapons can be permanently upgraded by finding special items inside of treasure chests. However, many items function closer to Zelda 2 than A Link to the Past, as the majority of goodies you get are passive in nature, merely allowing you to explore new areas by virtue of being in your inventory. For example, the scuba diving gear enables you to swim, while the crucifix scares away any nearby ghosts. Most of these items are simply bought from the merchant in town with cash money. The most interesting of everything you get, though, are the skills. Various characters, sometimes people in town, will teach you skills at certain points in the game. Gun skills include stuff like rapid fire and charged shots, while fist skills consist of things like uppercuts. Some skills are necessary to finish the game, like the charged punch ability that shatters specific boulders. Acquiring new items, skills, and upgrades is always super cool.

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If you're a gunman and you need proof of your innocence after a murder just went down, then consider checking out Gunman's Proof. You could claim that you were too busy playing the game to commit any gun related crimes, thereby giving yourself a rock solid alibi. In all seriousness, the game is fun. The graphics may be drab and the game play simple, but the thrilling gunplay, creative themes, and peculiar humor help carry the game. Gunman's Proof puts a unique twist on the action adventure genre by eschewing medieval fantasy and going with a mixture of wild west and sci-fi themes. For that, Gunman's Proof deserves a medal.

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