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 Post subject: Arcade Archives: Gun Frontier (PS4|5 - Switch)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2022 1:11 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 629
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base

Today's review will be taking a Wild West ride.
No, we're not talking The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers or BraveStarr. I'm talking Gun Frontier by Taito.

It's the Aerial Rodeo on Gloria's skies!

While Gun Frontier seems to be a basic shmup since it sends you with a single basic shot and no sub-weapon support, the game has a few twists to improve on the basic aspect. The first one is the power up system. Rather than picking a "P" or something, the ship requires you to obtain five coins in order to level up. But these are carried by specific enemies, ships with cattle skulls on the front. Powering up the ship will increase the width along with the strength of your bullets from your simple twin shot to a 6 bullet wide frontal fire. The good news is that if you lose a life you don't power down all the way back to your twin shot, instead you'll lose one power level, granting you a chance to regain your strength and make progress despite the checkpoint-based respawning. While lacking of a sub-weapon to provide additional support, you can use bombs, even if the bomb gauge is not completely full. To completely full the bar and subsequently obtain 1 extra bomb you have to pick 25 Gold Nuggets to obtain a Bomb. These can be obtained by destroying builings and ground-based enemies like tanks. But the most important detail of the bomb is the "movement based trajectory" of the blast when its fired. The mechanic consists on moving the ship in a particular direction while pushing the bomb button. This will send the blasts diagonally or in a simple spiral, acting as an offensive weapon and as a defensive weapon when its necessary to blast it just for defense.
Having a bomb with a player movement based trajectory might require to know when and how to use it, and boy, you'll have to learn this very quickly 'cos this game boosts up the difficulty in a series of methods that will push your flight skills to its very limits. First off, the game lacks of sub-weapon support. Unlike Darius, you don't have bomb support providing lateral firepower or a shield to sustain a few hits before going down. This definitely makes the game complicated for newcomers as the game has some fast-firing attacks waiting to hit you. Like I've said before, this is one of those old shmups where if you lose a life, you're bounced back (except during boss fights).

Draw and shoot fast, compadre. Or else you'll be "Gunsmoke".

The most notorious aspect of this game is how your fire rate will determine the difficulty of the game. The game will start counting the time duration of your firing button until the next time is pressed. If its pressed within the next 8 frames (7.5Hz), the rank will increase by 1. Firing in intervals of 9 frames will not increase it and what's more curious is that Player 1 and 2 have separated Ranks (Thanks to Klatrymadon for telling the forum about that). Looks like Taito did some science with this "Anti-cheat" measure.
If the "Anti-Rapid Fire" and start back checkpointing weren't enough, the game pulls another difficulty stunt: Lucky shot at the final boss, you have limited bullets and you have to hit the boss to get the true ending, and you can't waste time for that precision shot 'cos the bastard will be surrounded with more panels on the most pure coward style and you only have 6 bullets.

The game was released on the Sega Saturn by Ving as part of their Arcade Gears line-up and later on the PlayStation 2 as part of Taito Legends 2. The Saturn port was the worst of all 'cos it changed the enemy placement, glitches and audio issues, being the tone down on difficulty and the boss explosion animation improvement the only points in favor. The PS2 port was a near-perfect accurate port, being the removal of the Taito logo on the start up the only difference. In August 12th of this year, Gun Frontier made its debut on the Arcade Archives series (PS4/PS5 and Switch). The first and main feature is the Original Mode where he/she can select to play the Japanese or the International version of the game, so you can choose to play Gun Frontier or Gun & Frontier. It baffles me that the localization had the "and" symbol with the in-game score font rather than an original graphic that looks more like a glitch rather than part of the whole logo. It's like the game yells out "GUN and FRONTIER". The Japanese Gun Frontier has a few voice samples in the opening scene, aside of that, the game's virtually the same. The original difficulty and the original graphics from the arcade were kept, and what's best of all: No glitches. If you want to retire the Saturn version, then you can finally do it. The Arcade Archives release also includes the Hi-Score and Caravan Modes, and while the timer still runs during the stage clear scene this doesn't affect too much the gameplay as the result screen passes very fast compared with let's say Arcade Archives: Raiden. Regardless of your skill, your Caravan Mode experience will end in Stage 2 before reaching the boss. But you can select if you want to play on Stage 1 or 5 in this mode (just like in Arcade Archives: Thunder Dragon 2), for the sake of extra challenge.

Shmup fight at Taito Corral.

Graphically, Taito aimed for a more photorealistic approach with this game, as it relies on digitized scenery and artwork more often than the pixel art that is comprised by the ships and vehicles in the game. The most notorious aspect of the game is the theme involved: Wild West (AKA "American Western"). Shmups commonly use Science-Fiction, Modern Military or Fantasy settings, becoming the dominant themes on the genre, making Gun Frontier a complete breath of fresh air as we see something new and unique in those terms.

The music, compared with Fighting Hawk or the Darius series is quite a bit dark, especially when the stage theme starts, but it gains beat and more life as the level progresses, and it is worth to mention that the music is slowly leaving its chiptune like instruments and adapting more modern sound processors that allow more "instruments" to be included, being the percussion the most notorious aspect of the game, and this advance will be carried on to Metal Black.


Conspiracists proof that humanity didn't left Earth at all.

- The game shares the same name as the 1972 manga by Leiji Matsumoto. However, they're completely unrelated.
- For an otherworldly planet, Gloria is IDENTICAL to the Earth due to the digitized use of the "Blue Marble" pic. This detail is also noticed on Warashi's Shienryu.
- Gloria means "Glory" in spanish.
- In Gun Frontier timeline, this is actually the continuation of Metal Black
(Project Gun Frontier 2), connecting the Earth invasion in the past an the overpriced journey to Gloria will fully explain the sudden poverty that lead to the American Western-like era as a "Reset" on the society lifestyle.
- The description of the game on Arcade Archives has two errors: First one, it places the game on Earth, and second it writes the enemy name as "Wild Lizard"
(in singular).
- The rapid fire-difficulty increase factor was also reutilized on Darius Gaiden
(you can see that on the Game Rank bar in the Cozmic Collection port).
- Stage 2 ends on a waterfall where the boss appears, this is later repeated in Palmyra Valley, the third stage of RayStorm.

I was just doing what the Sheriff didn't.

When it comes to wild arcade shoot em' up bonanzas, Gun Frontier is the Marshall of the town. What I mean? It is a must play for those who are looking for some challenging vintage action.
Just pick it and saddle up cowboys. This rodeo is gonna be the aerial gunfight of your life.

Now that Gun Frontier and Metal Black are in the Arcade Archives, we can say this "Roundup" is complete.

This pic means "Positive Result" in the Shizuka Scale.
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Bringing you shmup and video game reviews with humorous criticism.

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