Gun Crazy describes itself as a fast-paced, hectic, arcade-style shoot em’ up game – and those are pretty accurate terms to describe it.
The player takes control of a blue-haired woman with robot gauntlets or forearms, who arrives in a futuristic police car and just starts shooting things. That’s honestly all that can be said about her though because nothing else is explained throughout the game. And it’s not like the game has many opportunities to explain her or her crazy arms because there just isn’t a ton of content. That’s not to say Gun Crazy is bad, it’s just unrefined.
The game uses simple controls and they are fairly intuitive. The A button to jump, X to shoot, LB for stationary shooting, and B for dodging. It’s simple but it works, and it does feel like a classic arcade shoot em’ up.
The only one I have an issue with is in the dodging. Gun Crazy encourages you to constantly shoot and, as the description says, it is fast-paced so you’re almost always moving forward, which makes it awkward to try and switch between the B and X buttons in the midst of combat. It doesn’t help that there’s no way to rebind buttons, even though both triggers are unused and would work much better.
Another way to look at this though is that it forces the player to think more while playing, stopping them from holding a single button for the entire game.
Another little quirk is that when you get close enough to an enemy, instead of shooting you will punch them. It’s a strong attack but doesn’t exactly fit with the retro feel of what the game is trying to emulate. It also doesn’t work consistently and can activate right before an enemy is within melee range. It also stops you from moving and can interrupt the flow of your movement. But beyond that, things play smoothly. The movements are fluid and I have had no issues with lag or glitches.
The tutorial is pretty basic and follows the philosophy that the best way to learn is to do it. It uses button prompts to get the player to see what each button does instead of using text or audio, which actually works with the straightforward nature of the game. It is odd that the tutorial never prompts the player to double jump though, especially since the first level of Gun Crazy starts with the need to make a double jump.
Which brings us to the main attraction, the arcade mode. The arcade mode consists of several levels, each structured differently, and will have you fighting your way through hordes of enemies before reaching the level’s mini-bosses and bosses. As the player makes their way through the levels there are a few different weapons that can be picked up; a laser gun, machine gun, or one that shoots giant red balls that I’m not sure what to call. The two ways to lose the gun are by running out of ammo or dying.
Thankfully each life includes five hits of damage, so it’s pretty easy to use all the ammo in a gun before dying. Gun Crazy is also pretty generous with its lives – it works on a system where a scoring run consists of three lives. Lose all three and it’ll prompt the use of a continue. Once used, the game will reset the score to zero and revive the player right where they died – use too many and it’s game over.
The first level starts off easily enough and the initial mini-boss is probably one of the easiest boss fights I’ve ever faced. It’s highly predictable and incredibly short, but fret not as the game only gets harder. The next few bosses are sure to land some hits and may even knock out a few lives while they are at it.
The only level I actually had a big issue with is the third level. It takes place on the aforementioned police car as it drives through a tunnel. When on the hood of the car the bullets will explode shortly after being fired. So the only way to fight enemies is to stay on the roof of the car. The real issue is when the enemies are too low on the screen to shoot and will require the player to move towards them to punch them, which again isn’t the best mechanic. Thankfully, at the beginning of the boss fight, the car is destroyed and the remainder of the fight takes place on solid ground. The player will be free once more to run around and shoot without their bullets disappearing.
The biggest issue with the arcade mode though is how short it is. And while many of the fights are challenging, the main reason the bosses land their hits is that the screen often feels cramped. There isn’t room to manoeuvre and try to dodge their attacks, as the game walks a fine line between challenging and frustrating.
Gun Crazy on Xbox One is very predictable and many of the events feel scripted to happen in a certain way each time, so after a few playthroughs there won’t be any surprises. However, for people who like to challenge themselves and can’t rest until they beat their previous score, this is a good little game. But fair warning – after a couple of playthroughs, the main emotion behind replaying the game may be spite. On a lighter note, it’ll only take 20 minutes or so for you to earn a cool 1000 Gamerscore, which is always something to consider.