Clive may not be the meanest hombre in the Wild West, but he kills lots of outlaws...and bunny rabbits.
Gunman Clive would have fit nicely in the NES library. Developer Bertil Horberg crafted a loving homage to the 8-bit side-scrolling platformer, complete with a high level of difficulty that should please hardcore players.
That said, we're glad this unique looking title debuted on iOS and Android instead of Nintendo's dusty console, largely because the bulky gray box wouldn't have been able to handle the cool sketchbook graphics that help bring the Wild West to life.
What we love most about this game is its simplicity. The story? You're Gunman Clive, charged with rescuing Mayor Johnson's daughter from a bunch of thugs. The plot's so easily digestible, we can almost see the super thin NES booklet next to the cartridge.
Then we have the controls. Left, right, up and down, along with buttons to jump and shoot. That's it. Thing is, this game isn't a cakewalk; far from it. Success heavily depends on your ability to read enemy patterns, identify weaknesses and make carefully plotted decisions, which involve dodging bullets at just the right time and hopping across platforms that disappear and then reappear, one after the other.
It's great stuff, especially when Horberg adds new wrinkles to the gameplay, like riding in a mine cart or battling your way across a moving train. Some elements are a bit out there (we don't know why ducks and bunny rabbits have it in for Clive), but for the most part, the experience retains that tough Clint Eastwood feel.
Of course, the game has some faults. For starters, you can beat it in a sitting if you're especially skilled, so there's that. We also don't think enlarging the buttons with the included slider helps. They tend to get in the way, and Horberg would be wise to implement an option to use an invisible d-pad that appears whenever the player presses the left side of the screen.
We're also not big fans of the weapon upgrades that do plenty of damage but lack visual oomph, with the exception of the laser beams. The slow-moving shotgun blast does little to excite, and the same can be said of the bullets that break from their usual trajectory and travel downwards. More punch would go a long way.
For just a $1.99, though, you owe it to yourself to play Gunman Clive, especially if you dreamed of being a cowboy or just want a little video game nostalgia. The stylish visuals really set it apart from anything we've seen on the App Store and Android Marketplace, while the controls take us back to the glory days, when the only buttons you needed to worry about were A and B.
What's Hot: Wonderful sketchbook presentation, slow-moving but tightly controlled hero, replenishing Clive's health with birthday cake, tricky platforming.
What's Not: Somewhat short, weapon upgrades lack pizazz.