I've never been much of a fan of run-and-gun games. You know, games like Contra, Ikari Warriors and Metal Slug.
Gunstar Heroes. I've enjoyed it a lot, though, so I guess that kind of makes up for my lack of love for the genre as a whole.
I can't imagine I'm alone in my admiration of this Genesis/Mega Drive classic, released in both Japan and North America in the autumn of 1993. After all, it's pretty darn accessible as far as side-scrolling shoot 'em ups are concerned, and it's also less realistic and violent than most of its genre cohorts.
That's not why Gunstar Heroes put a big, stupid grin on my face back in the day, though--and why it still does so today. No, for that I can thank the game's beautiful sprite work, creative level design, mind-boggling boss encounters and unique weapon system. Oh, and it has a wicked (in the good sense) soundtrack.
Was Gunstar Heroes my one chance at finding true love with the run-and-gun genre? I'm starting to think so. That's OK--as Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
See also: all of the previous '10 video games that made my life gayer' posts