Back in September, I visited Sega's San Francisco offices and had the chance to get some hands-on time with their upcoming Genesis emulator port of Gunstar Heroes [$2.99] for iPhone. Gunstar Heroes is a classic run 'n gun shooter from hallowed developer Treasure that first appeared on the Sega Genesis back in 1993 but can since be found on most major console download services and in various compilations. Last night the iPhone version of Gunstar Heroes made its way to the App Store.

Gunstar Heroes has developed a hardcore following over the years by being one of the most action-packed titles of its kind. Seven stages filled to the brim with enemies and frequent boss battles await the Red and Blue Gunstar twins. Developer Treasure had a knack for creating intense games with fast-paced action, dozens of enemies coming at you at once, humongous enemies, and fantastic pixel art and music. Gunstar Heroes was brutally difficult with physical buttons back in the day, and this difficulty is only compounded with the virtual onscreen controls of Sega's Genesis iPhone emulator.

For nostalgia enthusiasts, the iPhone version of Gunstar Heroes may be worth the few dollars to download and experience on the go at any time. The virtual controls are unwieldy, but the game is still fairly playable and retains all of the epic content of the original. Gunstar Heroes was always at its best when playing with a friend during 2-player simultaneous co-op, and this feature has been retained in the iPhone version thanks to a local Bluetooth multiplayer option. If you think you can manage to play one of the harder games ever created with the added difficulty of virtual buttons, then Gunstar Heroes is worth a look, just don't blame me if you end up throwing your device into a wall due to frustration.

  • E_Domina

    sweet. i had this on psn. i can get this mobile now

  • BulkSlash

    I hate these lazy Sega emulations that don't bother to offer an easier mode to compensate for the touch screen. Sega really are clueless these days...

  • Han Shot First

    Speaking of Treasure, someone should port Ikaruga to iOS with the same precise touch controls the Cave ports have. I'd buy that in an instant.

  • Anonymous

    I'm pretty sure that the reason Gunstar Heroes was so well received on the Mega Drive isn't just for it's crazy visual style, but also its tight control scheme and gameplay mechanics... it was one of the few games that encouraged people to try playing on the harder difficulties after each playthrough, especially with that seven-form boss.

    Without a decent controller, suddenly the game loses half of its merit. I guess this isn't really a fault of Sega too much-- I honestly wish Apple would make some kind of 'controller attachment' to turn iPhones and iPads into straight-up handheld consoles. Not a weird shell that presses the virtual buttons on the touchscreen, but an actual 'official' controller, in the same way that the iPad keyboard dock is an 'official keyboard' and uses its own non-touchscreen inputs.

  • John Hood

    As much as I'd like to continue supporting Sega's App Store endeavours, I'll be giving this a miss for now!

  • Anonymous

    This just makes me sad there are no official gamepads for the iPhone that work. I can't even imagine playing such a twitchy game like this and not getting frustrated with the controls.

  • Anonymous

    Sega just slaps on that semi-transparent pad and 2 buttons on all their games and they think it's ready for prime time. Someone should remind them that GunStar Heroes is not Phantasy Star. These emulated games are better positioned at .99, not $2.99 - -for that price, you can get one of the better i-device games built from the ground up, like Dungeon Raid, and for $2.00 more Lego Harry Potter which laughs in the face of these Sega ports.