It's not easy to make a unique platformer. You either have to be trusty with your design skills and make a game look out of this world and startlingly unique, or you have to have some sort of wizard when it comes to your level design skills. Luckily, the people behind Gunman Clive [$1.99] have a little of both, and it makes for one of the best platformers I've played for years, on iOS or any other platformer.

Gunman Clive comes out of the gate shooting with an incredible look, which has a hand-drawn feel and makes you feel as if you are playing a game on the page of a tea-stained sketchbook. As Gunman Clive, you play the rough-and-tough Western hero on a mission to save the mayor's daughter from wild bandits. Not that any of that matters, because as soon as you get an eyeful of this game you'll drool a bit and forget any of the storyline in favor of sucking up the pretty graphics with your face.

Controls are pretty simple in Gunman Clive -- a directional pad on your bottom left and a shoot and jump button set on your right. I wasn't nuts about the floaty directional pad at first -- it felt like my thumb was spending too much time in the middle of the screen -- but eventually I adjusted. It's handy to know you can jump into the menu and change the size of the d-pad or choose to make it static. For me, these small changes made the game much easier to play.

If you have ever played a classic platformer from the NES era, especially Mega Man, you will feel the echoes of them in this game. I giggled the first time I got a weapon drop too -- it was a spread gun. If you people are trying to make me relive all those fine old days spent perfecting my Contra runs, it's working.

You can also expect excellent level design here, which goes far beyond the basic jumps of most iOS games these days. Physics also come into play, but in a unique way that leaves most of those physics-based titles out there in the dust. And later in the game, you get to ride an actual rocket. Quite the contrast to the good old "Oh, an ice stage... a fire stage ... a forest stage" boredom that so many of us are sick of. You won't be bored with these levels as Gunman Clive keeps it fresh throughout.

One thing you might find, however, is that you may experience some frustration while playing Gunman Clive. That is because it actually is quite challenging. The level bosses in particular will take you some time to get used to. They have that bombastic feel that you don't get often enough as well -- I feel like I've played against too many end level bosses these days that don't feel dynamic at all.

These bosses are hulking mammoths ten times your size, which I personally like. As far as challenge goes, though, I found myself wishing that the checkpoints would come a bit sooner after playing through several particularly difficult parts over and over. Or perhaps, an easy mode? Maybe I'm just out of shape from my NES days.

If you love platformers, you have to pick this beauty up. It really is a standout in all categories. The only possible turn off I can see is the difficulty, but maybe that's just a fine excuse to bone up on your skills. Get that itchy trigger finger ready and come out of the gate with guns blazing, and you should do just fine.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Elton Bird

    Just downloaded this, very, very nice!  As a verteran gamer who loves classic gameplay, this looked a must buy and pleased to say it hasn't disappointed so far!

  • swarmster

    I'm guessing no iCloud support, since there isn't even Game Center, right? Hopefully I remember to pick it up when I get home, then, since there's no reason for me to buy it now and play a couple levels when I'll be forced to replay it later.

    And since I actually do like the style, and have to choose, I'd rather play it on my iPad. there any Retina support?

  • Adams Immersive

    iCade support too!

    • Adam Luter

      Is that a request for or a declaration of support?

      • Adams Immersive

        It was mentioned in the TA forums. I posted a link—check back here later for it (it’s awaiting moderator approval).

      • swarmster

        It is listed in the iCade's official support list on Ion's site.

  • The Real Ninja

    Was thinking of buying this, and the review sold me! 🙂 Thanks TA for another great review!

  • Robert Mullen

    I picked this up when it came out. I bought it for the art style, but stayed for the fantastic level design and solid gameplay mechanics. The level design, controls, and epic boss fights all fit together perfectly. I have to say I got far more than I was expecting going into this title. It is most definitely now in my permanent collection.

  • Aaron Sullivan

    I read about the difficulty and hoped it would support iCade. Once I saw it did, I bought it. 🙂

  • riviery

    It's a very good game, certainly, but the 'floaty' jumps bothers me a little. It's funny the reviewer gave positive points to the game's physics; that's the only flaw in my opinion.

  • Dave Bonan

    i just got it on 3ds today. i'm already at the final level boss, level 20.
    i like how the jump is touch sensitive, short and tall. but the enemies can fire at you diagonally like contra but you can't and you can't shoot up either. def worth $2

  • bbve

    Gunman Clive's Difficulty is what makes it 5 stars. I love the challenge and GMC is my 2nd fav game behind game dev story and is just so much fun. Everyone should pick it especially mega man fans.

Gunman Clive Reviewed by Colette Bennett on . Rating: 4.5