Gunman Clive is a simple side-scrolling platformer created by Bertil Hörberg. The game began as an iOS and Android title, but it has since found its way to Nintendo’s 3DS eShop. It is available for the low price of $2, but, despite its small price tag, Gunman Clive certainly packs a punch.

The premise of the game is a simple one and one that we’ve come to expect from platforming games. Mayor Johnson’s daughter (and Clive’s love interest) has been kidnapped, and it’s up to Clive to save her. (These roles are reversed if the player chooses to play as her). The player must then jump and shoot his way through sixteen levels (and four boss fights) in order to be reunited with Ms. Johnson. The game elements that side-scrolling pros have come to expect are all there, too. Droppable power-ups and health, climbable bosses, and pesky disappearing platforms abound. The controls are simple, requiring only the analog stick or directional pad and the “B” button.

Levels are relatively short; a skilled platformer can expect to beat each one in one minute or less. However, dying is easy, too. Health drops seem to be rare, especially at later levels, but characters respawn with full health. Coming into contact with spikes, falling into pits, or taking too much damage will require the player to start the level from the beginning, as there are no checkpoints throughout levels. While the infrequency of checkpoints may seem ruthless, the fast spawn rate and quick progression makes the lack of checkpoints much easier to handle.

The graphics were wonderful at the time of the game’s original release, and they still are. Utilizing the 3D feature makes them even better. The visuals of Gunman Clive are presented in a sketch-like manner, which is quaint and seems oddly suitable, but the game still manages to incorporate just the right amount of color, too. The animation is smooth, an impressive feat given the game’s art style. The soundtrack, though simple, is enjoyable, and the general vibe of the music changes according to the level you play on.

The game boasts three different difficulty levels, potentially greatly strengthening its replay value. However, little changes exist between the three. Harder difficulties seem to do little more than limit the amount of hits the protagonist can take before his or her death, which may be little more than frustrating in the long run. In addition, Gunman Clive also has three characters, two of which are available from the beginning. The third character changes the play style of the game completely but is only unlockable upon beating the game once. (Playing through as each character comes highly recommended.)

The Verdict

Gunman Clive is a fantastic game, especially at $2. The game looks good, and it plays even better. The game’s shortness is rectified by its replayability. Its multiple characters, difficulties, and the possibility of continuing to beat your old scores make replaying through the game several times worthwhile. Its simple controls, story (kill the bad guy, get the girl), and mechanics are enough to make any long time gamer nostalgic for games past. All in all, if you’re looking for a fun, satisfying platformer to fill your time, this is the perfect game for you.