Best Western (Gunman Clive 2 – 3DS)

Having enjoyed Gunman Clive, there was no doubt that I would enjoy it’s recently released successor. The game’s creator, Bertil Hörberg, jokingly expressed the possible loss of his “indie” credentials for the announcement of this sequel, but whether joking or not he and those involved should be proud of their work on Gunman Clive 2. From a distance it may appear that this is more of the same, but there’s something to be said of the game’s restraint from adding features and nuances just for the sake of one-upping the first game.

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Instead, GC2 manages to best the original just by being a better experience. It became a greater game by continuing the work it laid previously. Sequels can lose sight of what made the original so great, either by trying to gain a wider audience, or merely tacking on meaningless additions. Due in to its intended brevity, Gunman Clive 2 doesn’t have the time to train players on a new set of mechanics. Its focus is on delivering another fun, challenging game, and it succeeds tremendously.

As silly as it sounds, the smattering of colour the visuals have received go a long way in keeping me playing. While the sepia soaked off the original were hardly an eyesore, it didn’t help in distinguishing one stage from the other. The bold colours of Gunman Clive 2 stop any sort of fatigue from setting it, and doesn’t allow for any sort of fatigue to take place. But as I said, all of this talk of colour is a bit silly. Let’s move on to issues of importance!

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Akin to the first game, GC2 isn’t afraid to mix things up with some unexpected mechanics. The VVVVVV-esque gravity portions make a return, and serve as a great example of the developer’s confidence since Clive‘s debut. These segments are noticeably more intricate than before, feeling less like brief excursions to keep things fresh and more like thoughtful new ways to challenge you. In turn, I found the game to be a bit more of a challenge, with the third to last level becoming quite the test of skill. Boss fights benefit from this approach as well, with some great examples that serve as more than bullet sponges. The game ends perfectly, with a boss that requires just as much platforming as shooting.

While sequels can be approached in so many ways, it’s nice to see Gunman Clive 2 build on its strengths instead impressing with a bullet list of “new” features. GC2 trumps its predecessor in every way, and is a display of Hörberg’s firm grip on the genre. It’s an excellent continuation of what came before, exceeding my expectations just by executing on what it does best.

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