Review: “Gunman Clive” (Switch/Wii U/3DS/Steam – Monochrome May Special)
Welcome back to The Splintering’s Monochrome May event! Today we’re featuring Gunman Clive, a retro-inspired side-scroller with a distinct sepia-tone aesthetic.
Created by Swedish game creator Bertil Hörberg, Gunman Clive actually began its life as an Android mobile game. Thankfully, Hörberg ported the game to platforms that don’t require virtual buttons, starting with the Nintendo 3DS in December 2012.
Get equipped with… Colt Peacemaker
As Clive, you must brave 16 stages filled with bandits, critters and traps to rescue Ms. Johnson from a band of villainous outlaws. Clive begins with just a simple sidearm (which has unlimited ammunition), but he can find weapon upgrades along the way, including explosive rounds, lasers, and the coveted spread shot.
For those well-versed in retro gaming, Gunman Clive will almost certainly remind you of Capcom’s original Mega Man games. Everything from the jump physics, Clive’s rate of fire, and even the ladder climbing animation seem to draw heavily on Mega Man for inspiration, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. Just like those old Mega Man games, Gunman Clive feels great, and you’ll get the hang of the controls almost instantly.
How the West was won
Fortunately, Gunman Clive has more than enough personality of its own and is not at all a clone or a soulless rip-off. While some stages feature fairly standard platforming fare, each one has its own unique twists or mechanics that keep the game fresh from beginning to end. Running across train cars, altered gravity, mine carts, even flying through space on the back of a miniature rocket – there’s a lot to do, and it’s all pulled off remarkably well.
There’s a good amount of variation in the enemies, too. You’ll encounter snipers, bomb throwers, wolves, and the ever-menacing ducks. The boss fights are also well varied, including a grappling Bionic Commando type, giant transforming robots, and even a guy who looks like Johnny Bazookatone on steroids.
Filter this, bitch!
Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Gunman Clive is its aesthetics. The graphics are drawn and shaded with a pencil sketch style, while the colors are almost exclusively in sepia tones. I say almost exclusively because some of the onscreen elements are in fact shaded with different colors, which makes identifying some traps and enemies a bit easier. So yes, we’re bending the Monochrome May rules, but only a little bit. In any case, Gunman Clive really is a stylish game, and everything animates smoothly, too.
Gunman Clive‘s soundtrack is a perfect companion to the monochrome visuals. The only way I can think to describe it is “synthesized Old West.” The only downside is that most of the songs will repeat each other as you progress from stage to stage. But the songs are so good, I doubt you’ll mind very much.
Is there anything negative to say about Gunman Clive? It’s hard to scrape up too many complaints. It is a little bit on the short side, you have infinite lives, and the checkpoints are pretty generous, so it’s fairly easy when compared to the retro platformers from which it takes inspiration. However, there are multiple difficulty settings and you can play as different characters once you beat the game – Ms. Johnson and the villainous duck – both of whom have their own unique mechanics, so there are some decent opportunities for replayability. Besides, it only costs two dollars. Any other bad stuff? I don’t know… the guns make pew-pew sounds instead of replicating realistic gunshots, if you care about that sort of thing.
Cut and Shoot is a real town in Texas – look it up
If I haven’t been 100% clear up to this point, Gunman Clive is good. It’s so goddamn good. I smile each and every time I play it, the entire time I play it, even when I’m sucking balls and would otherwise be getting frustrated. If you are a retro game aficionado, a platformer fan, an Old West enthusiast, or are in any way inclined to play this game, find a way to do it.
Gunman Clive is currently available for Nintendo 3DS, Steam PC (for just $1.99), and as part of the Gunman Clive HD Collection on Nintendo Switch and Wii U. There’s even an original GameBoy ROM floating out there if you know where to look. The Nintendo 3DS and Wii U versions of the game were used for the purposes of this review.
Thanks for reading! To check out more of The Splintering’s Monochrome May content, go here.