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Up from (Super) Obscurity

Last week, while I was talking about the Super Nintendo Contra-ripoff-em-up, GunForce, I uttered the ill-fated phrase,
"I've gotten mid-way through Level 4 before all my lives and continues ran out, and you don't end up seeing anything spectacular"
That phrase is basically true even through the first 2/3rds of Level 5...but after that? Holy molé, things go off the deep end of the Zaniest swimming pool in Wacky City, and you find yourself floating amongst some Un-Foreshadowed vehicles and entities before you can say "There's no such place as 'Wacky City,' Dingus".
So, come with me again, faithful readers, on another trip to explore the bizarre finale of...
First, let's go for a ride in the pointless ED-209-style Vehicle!
Move over, Kuribo's Shoe -- there's a new competitor for "most awesome but useless ride in a video game!"
For a few seconds right before the final boss of GunForce, you get to pilot THIS impressive Mecha-Walker, AND do battle with ANOTHER ENEMY-PILOTED MECHA (which is a different color):
This Mecha-Excitement is not long-lived; despite being the only vehicle in the entire game that:
  1. absorbs bullets shot at you
  2. has the whole vehicle jump when you press the jump button (normally "jump" means, "leave the vehicle I'm in/on")
...however, slightly less than 1.5 screens later, you reach this door:
At first, it doesn't seem like much of an obstacle: you can jump high enough to clear the bottom-part below the door. However, neither a flying nose-cone nudge from your GunForce-brand mecha, nor repeated blasts from its chin-mounted laser, have any effect on the door! What's a GunForce Commando to do!?
In fact, this may be the most complicated puzzle in the game, and one that has not come up before. In the past if you had to disembark from a vehicle, you just had to jump...and to make this task easier, a full FOUR of the ten buttons on the face of the Super Nintendo controller are "jump" buttons. However, the secret trick for how to proceed is that you have to hold the "Down" part of the D-pad while you jump (like you were trying to jump down through a raised platform) to leave your mecha. Then just shoot the door with any normal weapon, and it opens right up.
And no getting clever, now, and trying to jump back IN your mecha and hopping through the door! There's an invisible force field (evidently made out of "game balance") which prevents this!
However, what's in store for you next is even MORE bizarre and pointless than this brief detour from into GunDAMForce, because up next is...
The Game's Final Boss/Plot Twist!
...though, I think before we get there, it would be a good idea to look at each of the first four bosses (and the subsequent cut-scenes afterwards, where Our Heroes explain what's going on*), just to put the last boss in perspective:
*: and in so doing, I've now created what I believe to be the ONLY "full list of game cut-scenes" archive for GunForce on the whole information superhighway!
Level 1: ENEMY FRONT BASE!
Level 2: ENEMY SUPPLY DEPOT!
Level 3: ENEMY COMMUNICATION TOWER!
Level 4: ENEMY FORTESS THINGIE!
What do these bosses have in common?
Well, not much. They either belong to the unimaginative "walls of guns" category, or the equally basic "walls with SOME guns, supplemented by an endless supply of foot soldiers running by."
However, maybe we'd be better-served by looking at what the bosses and the in-game dialog DON'T get around to mentioning:
ALIENS.
...or, to be more specific:
...ALIENS WHOSE LAIR IS LINED WITH ALIEN DEATH-MONKEY INCUBATION PODS, AND THE ALIEN 'MOTHER BRAIN'-WANNA-BE BOSS PLUGGED IN TO A LIFE-SUPPORT BUBBLE CONTROLLED BY A COMPUTER SYSTEM NAMED 'SYSTEM'!
Yup, this is the first indication that you're facing aliens, and not just, y'know, an army of dudes. Nevertheless, this is what you end up fighting right after the aforementioned Hoppin' Mecha Room.
Of course, this being GunForce, the fight is pretty easy. The Alien Death-Monkeys that drop from the incubation pods do wander around and occasionally shoot at you...this could distract you from cracking the Alien Brain's globe and blasting its living nougat center, but you can also just blow a hole in the 'System' computer then stand inside it and shoot the Alien Brain in the face from a place of complete safety:
So, one Alien Brain/Safe Spot Boss Fight later...
And you get to see the glittering ending of GunForce, as your commando(s) leave the Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island to meet its fate by...uh...being engulfed by fire (presumably, fire of a "battle" variety):
Yes, it turns out that not only was the Terror Island invaded by Aliens (known to their friends as "Evil Invaders"), but the entire Mother Earth was under threat by these Evil Invaderniks! Truly, this is a third-act plot twist that would make the great noted movie director M. Night "Avatar: The Last Air-Bender-Destroyer" Shyamalan jealous!
Then we get the extended game-credits crawl, and...oh. The game was basically done by four guys:
Written by Tony Smith,
assisted by David Quin,
graphics by Tahir Rashid and Martin Wheeler.
Special thanks to 0yvind Aasheim, Alan Barton
I guess that explains a lot. But considering the miniscule team, it's really not that bad a game. As I said last week, I like playing it.
And how about that replayability!
And after completing it on MEDIUM mode, I used the semi-hidden "select-button" difficulty menu and tried playing it again on HARD mode. It's definitely more vicious: the basic pointlessly-marching foot soldiers shoot about twice as often, making them slightly more dangerous.
But the big change is the standard already-shooty Yellow Soldiers: in GunForce: Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island, Special HARD Edition, they actually start shooting at you pretty quickly. Given the quirkiness of the screen-scrolling (if you push ahead too far without letting the screen-scroll catch up, you end up being basically at the far right edge of the screen), you can end up getting tagged by enemy bullets before you've had a chance to react.
So, if you want to go fast, you better lay down an unrelenting stream of fire to clear a path in front of/and at a 45-degree-angle down and/or up from you!
Though, I guess technically that means its challenge is unfairly hard, as it requires memorization or spamming bullets off-screen...
Well, I still stand by my affection for GunForce
But hey -- Pitfall Harry's back early from his winter trip to Miami!
Anything to add, buddy?
— carlmarksguy, 2013-01-25
1
Wow! I know it's not clever to point out that this game is your basic Contra clone, but that's quite a blatant rip-off, right down to having aliens suddenly appear in the last level and the island exploding in the ending.
2
Dagnabbit, I forgot to mention that this wackiness totally copies CONTRA too...but I feel like Contra at least set up the Alien Invasion angle in its reading materials, and by having weird alien-y statues and stuff as bosses...rather than just going from Enemy Men and Machines to LOL-ALIEN-DEATHPODS in the LAST FRIGGIN SCREEN!
3
You cheated on the matter of wiping! How dare you, sir!
4
Now that I think about it, I remember hearing somwhere that some of the staff of Konami went to work for IREM and they eventually produced the Metal Slug games. With this seeming like a precursor of sorts to Metal Slug (Contra clone with cutesy characters and vehicles you can operate), I wonder if anyone who worked on Contra may have worked on this game, too. That would explain why the font is exactly the same for both games, too.
5
Addendum to above post: Those staff members from Konami went to IREM and made In The Hunt, then later made the Metal Slug games for SNK. Just to clarify any confusion.
6
@Skinr: is the wiping/cheating cuz I 'MSpaint-shopped' Pitfall Harry into a Gunforce victory screen?, @FlyOm: 'round these parts, I mainly know IREM for their amazing work on the bizarre regionalization resulting in my favorite fighting game, "STREET COMBAT"..but yeah, I'd heard rumors of Metal Slug :)
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